keeping employees engaged in summer with a picnic

Keeping employees engaged with a thank you picnic! Why not include families too? (Photo via Just Jefa, Flickr)

Even though summer doesn’t officially begin until June 21st, it unofficially kicked off Memorial Day weekend.  And, that means it’s time for helpful strategies for keeping employees engaged during these warm and distracting months!
Most people look forward to summer’s more leisurely pace and the fun that comes with sunshine and warm weather.  But this time of the year can sometimes mean employers are facing decreased productivity and employees are potentially distracted. There’s no better time to revisit plans to engage, appreciate and celebrate your team over the coming months.
Need inspiration? Read the creative and fun ideas below and download gThankYou’s “2018 Day-to-Day Employee Celebration Calendar”.  
With some planning you can employ easy, affordable and fun ways to encourage engagement that help colleagues feel valued and important to the success of the business.

Why Employment Engagement Can Flag During the Summer 

An Entrepreneur article on boosting employee engagement over the summer months shared research that confirms that productivity can droop a bit.  Unlike kids who typically get the summer off from school to play and recharge, adults often work year-round which can cause some malaise and listless attitudes.
 …a Captivate Network study found that workplace productivity drops 20 percent during the summer months. Projects take 13 percent longer to complete and workers are 45 percent more distracted.
Here are some typical summer distractions:
  • vacations (taking them, planning them and recovering from them)
  • the siren song of the outdoors is calling (along with the pull of nice weather)
  • kids are out of school (meaning shifting schedules at home and need for childcare or camps)
  • increased family commitments (visiting relatives, family reunions, etc.)

Keeping Employees Engaged – Get Serious About Summer Fun put together some advice on avoiding summer burnout, and included this accurate statement about the challenge of keeping employees engaged – “Face it, summer is a tough competitor.”  But let’s frame this in a positive way — you can explore ways of introducing more fun into the workplace.
Some of their ideas include:

  • Offering Friday afternoons off (this might be the most popular of all – some extra weekend time!)
  • Hosting an ice cream social (or if a party is not possible, your employees would likely enjoy receiving gThankYou! Ice Cream Certificates)
  • Attending a baseball game
  • Monthly outdoor lunch with a grill, lawn games and music
  • Lottery to win lunch certificates at local restaurants
  • Concierge service for pesky tasks like dry cleaning drop off

Integrity HR posted an article with the cheeky title of 5 Summer Activities That Aren’t a Picnic. (Not that there is anything wrong with picnics!) and their ideas included a few you may not have considered yet:

  • Volunteering to support a local non-profit or organizing a fundraiser like a 5K run/walk.
  • Designing a scavenger hunt around your town can provide team building and showcase hidden gems in your community.

Some Goofy Thoughts That Just Might Work

Michael Kerr, a humorous motivational speaker and workplace trainer from Canada has some silly concepts that might actually raise the fun quotient in your office.  Here are five of Kerr’s ten suggestions for keeping employees engaged:

  1. Holding a family open house – beyond a BBQ showcase the inner workings of your workplace
  2. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off contest – have a contest where employees share their perfect day of hooky then host a drawing and let the winner live out their day off dream
  3. Ugliest/tackiest Hawaiian shirt day/contest – be sure to snap some pics of the winners (and losers) for social media
  4. Fishbowl Fridays – if you aren’t able to offer Friday afternoons off for everyone consider tossing names in a fish bowl and letting the winner whose name is drawn leave early on Friday
  5. Team lemonade stand contests – take turns having teams set up and market a lemonade stand with proceeds going to a charity

Consider This Cool Idea from a Liberal Arts College

Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois has a quirky tradition that might translate into employee engagement.  Every spring the college hosts its famous “Flunk Day”  nobody knows for sure when it’s happening but everyone looks forward to it.  One day each spring classes are cancelled and students get to enjoy a carnival-like atmosphere on campus with games, rides, food, music, etc. and each year has a different theme.  The 2018 Flunk Day theme was Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Flunk Day is a Knox tradition that dates to the 1920s. Student-organized spring festivals on the Knox campus go back to the beginning of the 20th century. Planners of each year’s Flunk Day keep its exact date a closely guarded secret, resulting in weeks of rumors and occasional Flunk Day scares as everyone awaits the big day.

Your job could announce that a skip or “hooky” day from work will be happening sometime this summer, plan some fun team building activities and enjoy the satisfaction of the surprise when the time comes.

Schedule Fun to Make Sure These Months Don’t Slip By

Are you looking for additional inspiration to help plan summer engagement activities?  Download the gThankYou calendar to jumpstart the fun!  You’ll find lots of reasons to celebrate your employees using  gThankYou’s FREE “2018 Day-to-Day Employee Celebration Calendar”. It’s the ultimate resource to keep employee appreciation activities top-of-mind and inspired year-round.

The gThankYou annual calendar is jam-packed with insights into the latest HR trends, how-to tutorials for engaging and thanking employees, case studies to inspire you, examples of holidays to celebrate each month, and research statistics to help you make the business case for appreciation.
Download yours FREE now and start today!
2023 Employee Celebration Calendar

About gThankYou, LLC

Turkey Gift Certificates and Turkey Or Ham Gift Certificates by gThankYou are two of America’s favorite employee gifts and can be redeemed for any brand (Turkey or Turkey Or Ham), at virtually any grocery store in the U.S. Find out more: gThankYou Gift Certificates.
gThankYou, LLC provides company leaders with a variety of easy, meaningful and affordable ways to recognize and reward employees, holiday time or anytime. gThankYou! Certificates of Gratitude and our free Gratitude Cards are personalizable including incorporating your company logo. And, nearly all orders ship same day.

To learn more about gThankYou, watch our “About Us” Video and visit gThankYou today!

gThankYou, LLC ( is based in Madison, Wisconsin. Contact: Rick Kiley, Chief ThankYou! Officer, gThankYou, LLC at or 888-609-2234.
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How gThankYou Certificates Work

Step 1

Order Certificates

Choose the gThankYou Certificates you want and order them online or by telephone.

Step 2

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Your order is delivered by UPS. Nearly all orders ship the day received. Overnight shipping is available.

Step 3

Distribute to your employees

Personalize your gThankYou Certificates with Giver name or logo (both optional) and give them to employees.

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Redeem at any grocery store

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