During the winter, when it’s cold and dark, people don’t mind being indoors and getting work done, but in the summer, when the weather and the sunshine are calling, how do you keep your employees motivated and focused? I don’t know about you, but during the summer, I don’t want to be cooped up behind a desk any more than my staff does. The goal is to find ways to balance the work load and the call of the great outdoors. Here’s some ideas that we either do or have done in the past, to help keep staff motivated at work, when they would rather be at the beach.
1) Flex Fridays: Obviously it doesn’t have to be a Friday, you can change it to whatever day of the week that works for you. Some companies allow everybody to leave early (say 2:00). We have found that staff would rather have a full day off to start their weekend early, so for a period of 8 weeks, each staff member gets every other Friday off. This provides them with the ability to spend the whole day out of the office and still ensures that the office can function as ½ the staff is still here for the whole day. With the traffic on Long Island, allowing staff to leave early, just dumps them into the traffic nightmare, so they really appreciate having the full day off instead.
2) Ice Cream Man, Ice Cream Man: Who doesn’t love the Ice Cream Man? There’s something about that stupid little jingle that brings out the kid in all of us. Give a call to Mr. Softee and have him bring his truck to your office. Watch how quickly the smiles grow when everyone realizes the ice cream is on you.
3) Outdoor Meetings: Who wants to meet in the conference room, when they can meet in a park? Take the meeting outdoors. The fresh air and change of scenery could go a long way to foster creative thinking that wouldn’t have happened around the conference room table.
4) Staff Olympics: Every year we break the staff into teams and they compete in a series of 10 Olympic (not really, unless they’ve added chair races and games including ping pong balls to the Olympics) activities. The winning team gets token prizes like gas cards and bragging rights for the year. It’s a lot of laughs and gets people working together as teams. Throw in some pizza (and beer) and it’s a party and fun all in one.
5) Play Hooky: When you were in school unless you were a real nerd (like I was) you would cut class and do something fun. Give yourself and your staff the opportunity to do that during the work day. Go to a movie, go bowling, go on a picnic or the beach… close the office for an afternoon and play hooky with your staff.
6) Go for a Walk: During the summer is a great time to get out and get some exercise. Encourage staff to go for a walk, or better yet, start a friendly Fitbit challenge with the winner or winning team earning a prize.
7) Flip flop Friday, all white Wednesday, or T-shirt Tuesday: At this point, most companies have implemented some sort of relaxed dress code, especially for the summer. What about taking it to the next level and have fun with it. Plan days throughout the summer where all staff can really dress down with flip flops, or t-shirts, or whatever. Obviously, you need to balance this with what is appropriate for your work environment, but who doesn’t like to be comfortable at work?
8) Volunteer: Pick several days during the summer and give your staff the opportunity to volunteer for a nonprofit rather than come to work. Your staff will feel good about helping others and feel good about your company for your philanthropic spirit. It’s a win-win-win, and could get you some positive press also.
These are just some ideas to lift your staff out of the summer doldrums and increase employee morale over the hot summer months. I’m sure if you think about it, you can come up with some great ideas of your own. If you are interested in sharing, we love some new ideas we can throw into the mix. For us, it’s all about creating the right work environment, because at the end of the day, our employees are our greatest asset.
Kenneth R. Cerini, CPA, CFP, FABFA
Ken is the Managing Partner of Cerini & Associates, LLP and is the executive responsible for the administration of our not-for-profit and educational provider practice groups. In addition to his extensive audit experience, Ken has been directly involved in providing consulting services for nonprofits and educational facilities of all sizes throughout New York State in such areas as cost reporting, financial analysis, Medicaid compliance, government audit representation, rate maximization, board training, budgeting and forecasting, and more.