Summer Brain Drain? Inspire Employees with Fresh Team Building Ideas
Passion for Play

Summer Brain Drain? Inspire Employees with Fresh Team Building Ideas

Summer is a great time of year to be alive. The kids are out of school, the sun is shining, and outdoor activities abound.

But for your employees, summer can also be a terrible time of year to be at work--for the very same reasons. You may find your staff staring out the window, or constantly thumbing their cell phones as they text with their children, trying to keep them busy and out of trouble. And don't even think about scheduling a meeting on Friday afternoon.

You can make summertime work for you though. Here are a few ideas for getting your staff out of their chairs, out-of-doors and out of that summertime slump. And the best part is that if you choose the right activity, a few hours stolen from regular work tasks could translate into a huge increase in energy and productivity.


  • Walking meetings. Original thinkers from Aristotle to Steve Jobs knew that motion stimulates ideas. Why not support employee fitness and give their creativity a boost at the same time by encouraging your staff to walk and talk? All you need is a nearby park, or walkable urban or suburban neighborhood. It's easy to organize and summer is a great time to start. You might even consider buying side-by-side treadmills for the colder months.

  • Plant a garden. Do you have outdoor space that could be cultivated, or a nearby community garden? Company gardens are growing rapidly in popularity to motivate employees. For many people, gardening relieves stress. And it's fun and easy when the responsibilities of weeding and watering are rotated or shared. Allow those who are interested to take a couple of hours each week to tend to the garden. They'll come back refreshed--and come harvest time, you will all get to enjoy fresh flowers in the office, and delicious vegetables to take home or donate to the local food pantry!

  • Hold a field day. Get the whole staff outdoors for a fun day of friendly competition. You could go the highly organized route, as with a Hercules Trophy event, or take a more casual approach--like an old-fashioned neighborhood block party. In either case, be sure to include activities for people with a wide range of abilities. Consider hula hooping, an egg toss or egg carry, a half-mile run/walk, or an obstacle course where participants jump over cones or crawl through boxes. Form teams and see who completes the hula hoop pass the fastest. Invite families--much more fun than a "bring your son or daughter to work day." And don't forget to include everyone in on the planning--that's half the fun!
  • Summer hours. When the sun is shining, everybody loves to get a jump on the weekend. "We added an hour to Monday through Thursday, and then made Fridays a half day," writes one employer. "As an added bonus, we also gave each employee three Fridays off during the summer... they didn't have to use a vacation day to take it. This did more for morale and productivity than any bonus could have."
  • Hold a raffle. Tickets to summer concerts, sporting events, amusement parks or festivals make great raffle prizes. Make it a summer of "Raffle Fridays" and get people excited about coming in on that most trying of days. Everyone can enter to win.
  • Make break time game time. Put a ping-pong table in the break room, or install a Wii. Create a game cabinet, or a puzzle table. Longer games can be continued from day to day. Games provide a welcome break from routine, relieve stress, and give your staff a chance to get to know each other by relating in new ways.
  • Support volunteering. Group volunteer service can be a unique bonding experience, especially when the cause is one employees care about. Find a project through a volunteer clearinghouse, or ask the staff--they may already have a great idea. It could be anything from painting a house with Habitat for Humanity to collecting school supplies for needy families.
If company-wide or team days off for volunteering are not feasible, offer employees the chance to take a day off for a volunteer project of their choice. It's a welcome break in the routine--and research shows that it will help your employees to feel good about themselves--and about their employer.

Not all of these activities will be right for your company. But pick one or two and give it a whirl--you just might turn that summer slump into a winning streak.

Reprinted with permission courtesy of
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