The 4th of July is behind us. Up ahead: two months of summer — sunny, lazy, distracting summer, with vacation days and “summer Fridays” tempting employees at every turn.
In other words? A recipe for disengagement. And your task is keeping employees engaged.
It’s not as tough as you may think! Keeping up engagement levels through the summer months depends on a good balance that integrates fun, freedom, fitness and focus.
If employees have opportunities for regular, low-key summertime celebrations that center on accomplishments, family and wellness, they’ll be more likely to be productive the rest of the time.
This is the thinking behind the HR shift from “work-life balance” to “work-life integration,” according to the Limeade blog post “How to Keep Your Work-Life Integration On Track This Summer.”
“We believe you need to focus on the whole employee, rather than separating who they are in the office and who they are at home,” the Limeade marketing team writes.
“And it’s your job to find ways to connect and integrate the two. … Work-life balance implies a zero-sum game that says we can’t have it all. Work-life integration lets us coordinate, blend and bring elements of work and life into a unified whole.”
Employees in organizations that focus on work-life integration initiatives like social support and wellbeing are more likely to be engaged, more likely to recommend their employer to others and more likely to “go the extra mile” for the company.
Now’s not the time to pull out draconian rules or punish employees for wanting to enjoy their summer — that’s the old way of doing things and it didn’t work.
Instead, be inspired by the following summertime workplace celebration ideas to plan your own engagement calendar for the season.
The 4 F’s of Summer Employee Engagement
Engaging employees with celebration generally falls into four categories:
Fun — Pure, goofy fun is appropriate sometimes: games, social time, scavenger hunts — anything to blow off steam and get to know each other better.
Freedom — Employees appreciate schedule flexibility when possible in the summer. The flexibility to work around family obligations like dropping kids off at camp, or just leave early for evening league sports, is a perk that’s invaluable to employees and affordable for you.
Fitness — Healthy employees perform better. Think beyond physical fitness, too: financial literacy and emotional support are also forms of “fitness” that are integral to overall employee wellness.
Focus — Many workplaces now are offering meditation training to help employees stay calm and focus better. But don’t forget about the ultimate form of workplace focus, known as “flow,” or getting in the zone. Focusing on work should be enjoyable and rewarding, and one of the best ways to help employees experience this is to communicate how meaningful their work is. Who are they helping? How are they improving lives? All work has purpose!
All four of these methods for engaging employees won’t go far without one important element: gratitude. It needs to be the cornerstone of your engagement program. Be specific and show gratitude for a recent accomplishment. Even small wins count!
No matter what you have planned for activities on your employee engagement calendar this summer, appreciating and thanking employees is key at every step along the way.
Now, let’s start brainstorming.
10 Summertime Workplace Celebration Ideas
Think beyond happy hours! Choose workplace celebrations that are active, family-oriented and build social connections.
1. The company-wide cookout brings coworkers and families together for outdoor fun.
2. Free morning coffee is an oldie but a goldie: it’s one of the fastest-growing employee perks. Put out bagels too, and make it a morning tradition.
3. Visit your community Farmers’ Market and hire a nutritionist to share quick, healthy recipes for using local produce.
4. Cool off with an ice cream social! It’s a simple, affordable way to enjoy a summer treat together. You’ll need tubs of vanilla plus a variety of toppings (sprinkles, nuts, cherries, chocolate sauce, whipped cream). Need a reason? July is National Ice Cream Month.
5. Offer yoga classes before work on the company lawn or, if it’s raining, indoors in a rec room.
6. Hand out spot rewards for excellent work or staying safe on the job site — $5 gift certificates for ice cream, pizza, pie or candy are a reward everyone will love!
7. Invite employees to participate in a fitness challenge. A little friendly competition between coworkers will boost engagement. Tracking steps is one easy, accessible challenge, and most smartphones have step-tracking apps already. Reward participants with easy-to-redeem grocery gift certificates for Fruits & Vegetables.
8. Give your company IT department kudos on System Administrator Appreciation Day (Friday, July 28)!
9. Host a “Learning Lunch” on a topic of interest to your team, like Bitly does. Bitly’s “Lunch and Learn” tradition is “more than a weekly perk for us to look forward to, it’s an important statement about the values we share as a company and the environment we try to cultivate at our office.”
10. Celebrate National Tell-a-Joke Day (Aug. 16) with a joke contest. Encourage silly, clean jokes and groan-inducing puns. Have prizes ready!
Free Resource: Your Day-to-Day Employee Engagement Calendar
We all need inspiration to spread workplace gratitude daily. gThankYou’s Day-to-Day Employee Celebration Calendar gives you the tools and inspiration to build a culture of appreciation every day of the year. Be inspired; download yours today, absolutely free.
“In life, one has a choice to take one of two paths: to wait for some special day — or to celebrate each special day.” – Rasheed Ogunlaru, coach and author
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