Summer is quickly approaching! It’s that time of year when you start to dust off your grill, coordinate that river or poolside vacation, and crank “Surfin’ USA” on your commute to work. It’s also a fantastic time for employers to brainstorm seasonal activities to strengthen the company culture and keep workers refreshed and engaged. Annual company picnics are classic (and delicious), but there are other ways to bolster employee relationships and ultimately enhance the identity of your workplace. Start by thinking about your company. What is the personality or general character of your organization? What are your values? How are they reflected in the day-to-day operations of your business? Now ask: what summertime activities would capture these values?
If you want to keep employees on location while fostering teamwork and embracing your culture, there are many dynamic events you can organize. Have a chili cook-off or bring a chef into the office for a cooking lesson. Create an indoor mini golf course or fashion a makeshift bowling alley. Host an afternoon of improv or karaoke. There’s a lot you can do to transform space normally reserved for work: simple things like music, decorations, or rearranging furniture can do the trick.
A great way to build community inside and outside of your office is through volunteering. Research shows that intentional acts of kindness boost levels of one of the body’s “happiness” neurotransmitters, serotonin. A 2013 survey by UnitedHealth Group determined that four out of five employees who volunteered through their workplace said they felt better about their employer because of the philanthropic involvement.
You could organize a fundraising walk or run to support a cause reflective of your organization’s values. Take half a day to volunteer with employees at a food bank or help with a park clean up. Encouraging your team to roll up their sleeves will create a lasting sense of purpose and comradery.
Exploring the Neighborhood
Getting your employees outdoors can also help shake things up and renew their collective energy. If you still want to host a picnic or barbeque, mix it up—bring Frisbees or organize a ballgame, meet near a lake that offers pedal boats, or create a treasure hunt spanning the park. Make sure to keep accessibility issues in mind, especially if you have any employees with disabilities, so that everyone who wants to be involved can be.
Organizing activities that are outside the box makes for a memorable day. Think about coordinating a food cart tour or challenging the team to an urban scavenger hunt (there are apps and websites you can use for ideas). Book an excursion billed as tourism for your town and watch employees bond while playing tourist for the afternoon. Organize a trip to the local zoo or aquarium, a historical site, or even a museum with a special exhibit. Many places even offer discounts for large groups!
What is the personality or general character of your organization? What are your values? How are they reflected in the day-to-day operations of your business? Now ask: what summertime activities would capture these values?
Be aware that not every employee will be excited about an organized event. Some employees may feel uncomfortable with the physical demands or the pressure to socialize. Whatever the case, clearly communicate that the activities are not mandatory. And perhaps offer events at a variety of times—some during work hours, some after work hours.
Once you decide on events for the summer, make sure that you devote enough time to planning and ensure that your leadership expresses enthusiasm. Poorly run or negatively talked about events can have the opposite effect of what was intended. Strengthening employee relationships and enhancing the identity of your workplace should be year round goals, but take advantage of the summer warmth and sunshine to create memorable events and activities.