Vacation mode: How to keep employees engaged this summer

Jessica Webb-Ayer

The summer means warmer weather, picnics and going to the beach. So how do you fit working hard and keeping your business afloat when there are so many distractions?

Giving employees “Summer Fridays” and other workplace flexibility may be the answer, according to one Human Resource expert. Summertime means fun, but it also needs balance in the workplace through summer dress codes, employee events and even unique perks such as bonuses and vacation reimbursements, one expert notes.

Jessica Webb-Ayer

“Besides cash, paid time off is always one of the most coveted perks an employer can offer,” says Jessica Webb-Ayer, JD, Legal Editor, XpertHR. “Paid vacation, especially over the summer, can help employees prevent burnout and recharge their batteries. Since many workers aren’t taking enough vacation, employers need to encourage employees to plan and take annual leave.”

“Summer Fridays” – half-day Fridays or Fridays off — has been a long-time staple for companies to show how much they value their employees. Nowadays, employers aren’t just limited to Fridays. Some companies allow employees to take days off at various times throughout the summer or may give spontaneous days off.

Offer flex time
In the last several years, workplace flexibility has emerged as another employee benefit of choice. Interest in workplace flexibility can increase during the summer when employees want to spend more time with their families, participate in summer activities and achieve work-life balance. Summer is a good time for companies to offer flexible schedules, reduced schedules, telecommuting and compressed workweeks.

Get relaxed
A special summer dress code policy is another inexpensive way to improve employee morale and make employees feel more comfortable when the warmer weather hits. While the attire for “dress down days” is left to the employee’s personal discretion, they should avoid casual clothing not suitable for the workplace, such as flip-flops, beachwear, and excessively revealing attire.

Summer events are another way employers can improve employee engagement, show appreciation and bring teams closer together.

“Traditionally, employer-sponsored summer events tend to be picnics, barbeques and sporting events,” says Webb-Ayer. “It’s okay to think outside the box and offer more creative social events, such as employee getaways, ice cream socials or a trip to a ropes course.”

Companies that wish to offer more creative summer perks can also consider unlimited time off, reimbursement for vacations or vacation bonuses, travel stipends, paid sabbaticals, and bonuses/gifts, such as Visa gift cards.