Try These 4 Summer Activities to Promote Employee Happiness

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by viperk's , last updated on

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If you ask any job seeker what they are looking for in a career, chances are one three-letter word will get brought up in conversation: Fun.

Everyone aspires to have a career that is fun and rewarding. And while most C-suite executives are committing to a “fun” workplace, sometimes, budgets are tight. Luckily, it doesn’t take a ton of money to introduce activities that promote employee happiness—you can even align them with holidays such as Memorial Day or Fourth of July.

Why is having fun at work important? Well, I’m glad you asked.

According to The 2017 Employee Happiness Report, 67% of millennials say they are “somewhat happy” at work, compared to 55% saying they were “very happy” in 2016’s survey. Moreover, 48% of employees overall report being “somewhat happy” or “unhappy.” The respondents listed feeling unappreciated and a poor work/life balance as the leading factors in being less happy.

With Memorial Day fast approaching, I thought it would be fun to share four fun, low-cost activities and ideas for promoting employee happiness before your team heads out for the long weekend.

While these four ideas won’t fix employee happiness issues overnight, it’s a good start. My tip? Try implementing all of these activities over the course of the summer.

  1. Throw a Themed Lunch Party

At my old job, we had a lot of food-themed parties. Looking back on those days, they were always the most fun. And guess what? The digital world didn’t burn down that day because we took a couple hours to enjoy each other’s company.

In honor of Memorial Day, invite your employees to partake in a red, white and blue themed lunch. Ask that everyone brings in one of their favorite patriotic dishes (I’ve got dibs on the flag-shaped fruit tray), and you can supply the drinks and paper products. To take it one step further, have a little friendly competition among your employees. This will give them incentive to participate. For example, offer a gift card prize for the most creative dish and then allow your team to choose their favorite dish, based on taste.

Additionally, suggest that your employees wear red, white or blue if they’ll be in the office that day. Take one big group photo, and then share some photos of your themed lunch. These types of activities are always a big hit on social media!

  1. Host an Off-Site “Field Day”

Who doesn’t love a good old fashioned physical competition such as kickball or relay races? While it may be a little too late to plan this event before Memorial Day, it would be a great team-building activity to schedule for later in the summer.

Whether your team is small or large, hosting an event like this will enable better communication between employees that will hopefully translate to the office as well. To encourage participation, provide a light lunch and award the winner(s) trophies—and bragging rights. I guarantee this will be something that gets discussed for months thereafter.

To take it a step further, have a meeting to nail down the events for your company’s Field Day that way your employees will also have a say in the events they would like to participate in.

  1. An Afternoon of Freedom

Or perhaps summer Fridays? Another great way to show your employees you appreciate them is by instituting summer hours. Sometimes, all your employees want is some extra time off. Is it really going to cost you much productivity to allow them to leave at 4 p.m. instead of 5 p.m. on a Friday?

If you’re not comfortable allowing for Friday hours, try giving your employees a free afternoon once a month. I can’t tell you how happy this would make me, especially during the summer when it’s really hard to work inside knowing how gorgeous it is outdoors.

Allowing for extra time off has more than one benefit. It not only creates happier employees; it offers a way for employers to recognize team members for a job well done. While it’s not an “in-the-moment” reward, your employees will appreciate that the offer is there when they are ready for an afternoon off.

  1. Summer Scavenger Hunt

Remember when you were a kid how fun it was to do a scavenger hunt?

It could be just as fun now—and even if it doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, I’m willing to bet your employees will embrace it for a day.

Take a day (it could be the middle of the week or a Friday), and bring your team to a local park or downtown area of the city. One easy theme would be to make it a summer scavenger hunt (think flowers, ice cream, photos outdoors, bike rides, etc). My advice would be to assign a “Chief Fun Officer” to coordinate this event and make sure there are tiered prizes. But again, this should be fairly low-cost. You may also want to provide a few light snacks and water for your employees.

If you’re pressed for time or have a smaller staff that’s not conducive to these activities, you can try one of these 12 “perk-me-ups” as a way to show appreciation.

Have an idea you would like to add to the list? Please let us know your fun activity below or drop me a line at

Topics: employee engagement, Employee Happiness

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Eric Golubitsky

Eric brings 18+ years of entrepreneurial experience. Eric founded S.M.I.L.E. Inc. in 1998, which was a Consumer Electronic Pro Top 100 home automation provider and was recognized as the #1 fastest growing company in NE Ohio by CWRU Weatherhead School of Management in 2003. As an Ernst & Young "Entrepreneur of the Year" finalist in 2005, Eric's accomplishments have been recognized multiple times including the Consumer Electronics Association's national "Mark of Excellence Award." Eric is also a 5 year member of EO (Entrepreneurs Organization).