Summer is here, and it’s a season that evokes feelings of sunshine, vacation, and relaxation. Many employees who work indoors can get to feeling cooped up as the outdoors get nicer, adding undue stress to their jobs. But with proper planning you can avoid the summer blues and actually boost engagement as the daydream weather rolls in.
The Biophilia Effect
People and nature are connected on a deep level (a phenomenon known as biophilia), and deprivation from greenery and serene vistas has some real detrimental side effects to our productivity and overall mental health. During the summer this effect is heightened among staff that must stay inside all day. 51% of American employees take their vacation time in the month of July for a reason.
Therefore it is simply fantastic for morale when you acknowledge how irresistible the nice weather is – even better, when you take advantage of the nice weather to delight your employees. Here are five quick tips for making the summer experience at your workplace more engaging:
- Have an outdoor break area – If possible, throw some effort into creating a nice outdoor area where employees can take a breather, chat, eat lunch, etc. Sunshine is full of vitamin D, an essential nutrient that invigorates our immune systems, builds defenses for 16 types of cancer, and strengthens our bones. Regular outdoor breaks are not only relaxing, they add to our mental and physical well-being.
- Host a companywide cookout – Sometimes the way to peoples’ hearts is through their stomachs, and nothing could be truer during the summer. A good old-fashioned cookout with home style eats is a great way to blow off some steam and bring morale up. Include activities and games to create a carnival atmosphere and give away raffle prizes to raise the fun.
- Increase the indoor greenery – Going back to our deep connection with nature, simply seeing more greenery day-to-day, even indoors, has a net therapeutic effect. If getting outside more frequently isn’t feasible, adding more plants and greenery to your indoor office space has been proven to give a slight but significant bump in productivity and employee satisfaction.
- Get out and go for an afternoon walk – Brief activity after lunchtime aids with digestion and can help prevent the dreaded “food coma” from taking hold. Taking a group for a quick walk around the block to enjoy the last hours of sunlight in the day is a great relationship-building activity and can inspire a burst of late-afternoon productivity.
- Summer working hours – Several nine-to-five employers temporarily change their regular hours during the summer, offering a half day on Fridays or some other schedule tinkering to return some of those nice afternoon hours back to employees. Summer working hours are an excellent double-edged engagement strategy, great for retention as well as recruiting.
Don’t let your employees feel like the kids stuck in study hall watching their friends frolic and play through the window this summer. Get creative and think of ways you can use the nice weather and summer energy to your advantage, and have some fun while you do it!