Thursday, July 11, 2013

Boost Morale by Busting the Summertime Blues

Summer is full of wonderful things that make us feel good - vacations, warm nights, and plenty of outdoor activities, right? But for many employees and business professionals summer instead becomes a time of added stress.

For those taking a vacation, there’s planning and budgeting, preparing for time away from the office and catching up with missed work. But even those who don’t take time off can experience the vacation blues. Some will lament the reasons they’re unable to travel, others may simply feel the added pressure at work when co-workers are gone and they’re left to pick up the slack.

Regardless of the reasons for the added stress, employer awareness can really pay off. Here are five cool ideas for keeping your employees happy and relaxed during the hot summer months.

1. Half-day Fridays (or late-start Mondays) – Help those in the office feel the thrill of a little bonus time during the hot summer months. Whether you do this weekly or just once or twice, your employees will really enjoy the added time off.

2. Theme party or pot-luck - This feel-good activity can score big with employees, especially if the executive staff also participate. Having the boss serve you up some of her homemade chili, or seeing a stuffy manager dress up for the Hawaiian luau theme can really help staff feel connected to one another, and to management. You can encourage participation with voting and prizes.

3. Quiet time – Many people enjoy the quiet of a vacation over activities and outings. Make that possible by creating quiet time moments or "in office vacations".  Have planned dates or times when phones and email will be turned off for an hour or two. Encourage staff to read, take a walk, listen to music, or engage in some other quiet (non-work) activity.

4. Games and Contests – Keep staff excited to come to work by hosting games that are NOT tied to work or productivity. One fun idea is to hold an Office Olympics. Have staff come up with the various “sporting event” ideas and vote on which ones will be included in the final Olympic event. Enjoyment from this game can last several weeks as unique ideas are developed. Prizes can be given for creativity, teamwork, and for winning a gold medal. For a few other game ideas click here

5. Surprise treats – Half the fun of being on vacation is that wonderful and unexpected things can happen. So bring that into the office. Have a surprise ice cream day. Bring in a professional masseuse (or two) to give everyone a 20 minute massage. Keep the element of surprise by not alerting your staff to the up-coming treat, and by not having them occur on a scheduled basis.

All these ideas have one real purpose – to boost morale and bring the enjoyment of a vacation into the office. Keep it fun by having the executive team plan the activities, or letting interested staff volunteer to help. Find ways to reward those helpers who go above and beyond in bringing the vacation spirit into the office. Remember, these low cost ideas will pay high dividends in terms of staff morale and loyalty, which in turn will lead to better productivity and decreased turnover. This summer vacation has a win-win for everyone.

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