Summer break is coming to a close for most school-age children in our communities. Although there is still plenty of time to bring the fun spirit of summer into your workplace, resulting in an engaging, motivating environment for employees. And we know motivated, engaged employees yield better, more productive and all-around happier work environments. So here are 10 great tips to maximize employee motivation and keep employees happy and productive this summer.

  1. Make work a game. Your people spend their free time golfing, surfing, hiking or fishing, so why not make work more of a contest. Set goals to sell more products, develop better processes, or meet more client needs, and then reward the winners with prizes. Another idea: Hold a lunchtime trivia contest with questions about company products and history—again with prizes for the champs.
  2. Take a break with your employees. One afternoon skip out to golf together or go bowling. Maybe take the team to ride go-carts or just throw a Frisbee around at the park. Or have a chili cook-off with employees bringing their best recipes. The bottom line: It’s your job to help your team feel like more of a … well … team, and summer is a great time to do just that.
  3. Institute a fun summer tradition. Play a great summer song way too loud each afternoon (and let a different person chose the music each day). Take a doughnut break Monday morning, or have a pot luck lunch on Wednesday, or wear your favorite team jersey day on Thursday, or keep a Scrabble game ongoing on Fridays with departments competing against each other.
  4. Conduct “previews.” Summer is a great time to conduct what we call “previews”—not a formal review but a chance to sit down with your direct reports and evaluate progress toward their goals and, more importantly for them, what their career ambitions are and what you can do to help achieve those goals. These don’t need to take place in a formal work environment either. Take them out to lunch or hit a bucket of balls while chatting.
  5. Recognize, recognize, recognize. Cultures that are effective at appreciating excellence are up to three times more profitable than their competitors. And recognition doesn’t have to be stuffy.
  6. Start a traveling trophy. Do you have a random piece of artwork, decoration, or office supply that has been around forever and no one has claimed? Turn it into a traveling trophy that magically appears on someone’s desk when they return from vacation or after completing a big project.
  7. Tidy Up the Office – Believe it or not, having a clutter-free environment is one of the keys to productivity and success. A clear desk equals a clear mind. Encourage employees to throw away or recycle documents they no longer need and replenish office supplies. If your budget allows, now is also a great time to update your technology and resources; outdated tools can be a major productivity blunders.
  8. Offer Flexibility – Studies have found that work weeks of more than 40 hours can be harmful for employees and the organization as a whole. Giving employees a reasonable and respectable amount of flexibility actually promotes productivity. Have you ever thought of a summer hours program? Organizations can give employees flexibility while keeping track of their productivity and making sure all demands are still met.
  9. Coordinate a Summertime Company Event – The weather is beautiful, so why not have a companywide leisure event? It’s a great opportunity to invite families, encourage a positive corporate culture and show employees they are truly valued for their hard work. Whatever the event, it’s a great way to show your employees you care and keep them motivated.
  10. Read for inspiration – With longer summer days, it’s the perfect time to sit back with a cup of lemonade and read a good book. There are some great books out this summer that inspire new leadership ideas, tools and techniques. Here’s a complete summer reading list from The Washington Post.

Research shows that higher employee motivation leads to greater creativity, productivity, effort and, as a result, better company performance – and that employment management practices have a direct impact on employee motivation. So it is essential that companies, no matter what their size, identify strategies to motivate employees, implement them, periodically check to make sure that they are working and make adjustments along the way.

Most companies overlook the power and possibilities of no-cost recognition and rewards. A personal thank-you note, public praise, a wall of fame, all go a long way in making employees feel valued and appreciated.

In great cultures, leaders keep productivity as high in summer as it is the rest of the year. The point is lighten up and keep things fun in the coming months, but also help your people focus and stretch to reach their goals. Who knows, you just might end up having the best summer ever!