For many employees and their families, summertime means embracing the warm weather and spending more time outside. With children out of school, summer activities, and simply wanting to enjoy the sunshine after months of temperatures below freezing, it can sometimes be difficult to focus, especially if one is stuck inside an office setting.
There are a number ways employers can take advantage of the summer months and find ways to engage and reward employees through their organization’s wellness initiative.
Encourage employees to spend time outside. If possible, encourage employees to have walking meetings and/or to have their meetings outside for a change of scenery and breath of fresh air. This will give people an opportunity to get some steps into their day and will help employees feel more energized and alert. Different environments can also inspire new ideas. Don’t forget to remind employees to apply sunscreen before heading out! Perhaps keep some sunscreen in the meeting rooms to nudge employees to go outside.
Plan a company-wide summer party. Who doesn’t like a summer party? Host a company-wide gathering outside your normal work environment and encourage employees to bring family and friends. Examples of activities include barbecuing and having picnic at a local park, organizing a scavenger hunt, kayaking/canoeing, having a cook-off, and attending a sports game. This will give employees an opportunity to interact with each other outside of the usual work environment and will lead to stronger and better working relationships. Be sure to think about serving healthier food options at your company-wide event to encourage healthy eating.
Offer flexible work hours. Everyone likes flexibility in their work and the ability to plan their days according to their lifestyle. Many employers offer “Summer Fridays” where employees are able to flex their time and take off early on Fridays. Some variation of this include allowing employees to work an extra hour per day and leave early on Friday; allowing employees to choose their own hours as long as they get their work done; and allowing employees to take every other Friday off. Employees will appreciate this summer perk and feel more refreshed and that their work life balance matters.
Bring in fresh summer fruits and vegetables. Apricots, cucumbers, cherries, bell peppers, and watermelon – there are many tasty and healthy summer fruits and vegetables. Partner with a local farmer’s market to bring fresh and local foods to your worksite. Consider providing recipes for these food items. Celebrate the summer with Smoothie Tuesdays where you provide the fruits and vegetables and employees can make their own smoothies. It’s not only something fun and great for a hot summer day, but also healthy for employees. You can also ask employees to submit their favorite healthy summer recipes and create a company summer cookbook. Another idea is to have Farmer’s Market Fridays where employees are given an opportunity to purchase fresh foods at or near work – check out how one of our Working on Wellness participants built a partnership with Fresh Truck, a mobile farmer’s market.
Allowing employees to recover from work-related stress and providing fun ways to incorporate wellness into their lives will result in happier and more productive employees. Your employees will be thankful for the summer perks, have a boost in morale, and be more engaged. And just because summer ends, it doesn’t mean the perks must end too. You can use the summer as a trial run for some of these wellness interventions/policies and depending on the benefits observed, you can consider offering them year-round.