It’s June, and the sun is shining, kids are out of school, and people are flocking to beaches and lakes to enjoy the spoils of the season. But for most of the adult world, our day-to-day routines remain unchanged, and we gaze longingly out our office windows at the summer-clad world outside. Let’s face it: Summer is a difficult time to stay focused at work. It’s so difficult, in fact, that productivity drops by upwards of 20 percent and employees are 45 percent more distracted, according to a 2014 Captivate Network study.
As a manager or HR leader, improving employee morale during the summer is crucial in order to avoid widespread disengagement and low productivity. Many employers have come to terms with this need in recent years, and in response, they’ve started to offer perks like reduced summer hours, lenient vacation policies, and company outings to work on improving employee morale during the summer. But realistically, not every company has the resources or ability to offer these summer-inspired perks.
Luckily, there are other realistic ways that employees can take a load off and have fun with coworkers during the summer months. This summer, consider bringing your team together for an office spirit week or to celebrate holidays at work. Your friends at E Group will guide you through how to host a spirit week, have a little fun, and enjoy the summer months while continuing to work hard.At E Group, we’re huge proponents of employee engagement, and we’re aware of how important improving employee morale during the summer is. So, every summer season, we bring our team together for ‘E Group Spirit Week’: five days of fun themes and contests among the office.
The masterminds behind E Group’s spirit week are Dia Hinton, our Director of Accounting, and Jenn Ventura, one of our account managers. I sat down with them to get some insight into the planning and motivation behind this exciting event.
A few years back, Dia drew inspiration for spirit week from her children’s homecoming and Halloween events at school:
“When my kids were younger, I was really involved in helping out with their school celebrations. And then I realized -- it would be really neat if we did a similar theme here at E Group!”
Jenn has since joined Dia’s effort and helped grow Spirit Week into a weeklong event. Jenn’s motivation for helping was intrinsic, she said:
“I recently thought about the way I am during the summer, and how easy it is to be happy. And I thought -- we need more energy like that in the workplace. So I decided to help out with Spirit Week! It’s wonderful to celebrate holidays at work and have fun with coworkers.”
Dia and Jenn gave me the low-down on exciting office spirit week ideas that everyone can get behind. If you’re interested in improving employee morale during the summer, consider borrowing some of their office spirit week ideas.
Office Spirit Week Ideas
1. Keep it simple.
Sometimes, the simplest ideas are the most effective. Office spirit weeks often involve dressing up, decorating the office, holding contests. Whatever you do, be sure it’s simple and easy enough for everyone to participate in.
Jenn’s advice: “You want everyone in the office to be able to get involved, so don’t do something really elaborate. For example, one of our Spirit Week themes is sportswear day. Most people have at least one favorite sports team, so it’s easy for them to throw on a hat or shirt to wear to work and show their spirit.”
2. Incorporate holidays.
Holidays are always a call for celebration. Channel your employees’ inner kid-on-Christmas-morning, and celebrate holidays at work. The summer months are the perfect time for this. You might host a barbeque or picnic for the 4th of July, or throw a Christmas-in-July celebration around the end of the month. Later in the year, allow everyone to dress up for Halloween. The possibilities are endless.
Dia’s take: “This year, E Group’s Spirit Week falls right around Halloween, so it was easy for us to come up with Halloween-inspired ideas. The last day of our Spirit Week is a Halloween party, which we’re really excited about. Everyone can showcase their personalities through their costumes, and we can really have fun with coworkers.”
3. Recognize employee participation.
Sometimes, getting your employees to participate in spirit week events is hard. Encourage widespread participation by recognizing them for their involvement.
Jenn’s idea: “Every day during Spirit Week, we gather in the afternoon to recognize the person who showed the most spirit that day. We’re doing a costume competition, a pajama party competition, and whatnot. We’re also giving out awards to employees who show E Group spirit and embody our company values on a daily basis, not just during Spirit Week.”
A few years ago during Spirit Week, we collected non-perishable items for a local food drive.
4. Unite around common causes.
Today, more and more companies utilize charity work as a way to give back to the community and also unite their employees around a common cause. During spirit week, plan a trip to a homeless shelter or soup kitchen, run a charity race together, or host a canned food drive. There are so many ways to help your community while uniting your employees.
Dia’s idea: “We really wanted Spirit Week to be an opportunity for E Group to get more involved in the community. So far, we have a breast cancer awareness day planned for Spirit Week. We’re encouraging everyone to dress in pink that day and put forth a donation for breast cancer research. It’s such an important cause.”
5. Be creative.
Give your employees a chance to step outside of their daily duties. Incorporate themes and events that are unrelated to your company’s typical role. Don’t be afraid to give a quirky event or theme a try.
Jenn’s advice: “Think outside YOUR box. The best way to get your employees excited about Spirit Week is by doing something different. Try new themes, new events, and get involved in something your company normally doesn’t do. At E Group, we work with so many different industries on a daily basis, but not much in the entertainment industry. So, we host an Oscar-themed day just to change it up.”
6. Have fun.
Remember, improving employee morale during the summer is all about having fun and relaxing a bit. Celebrating holidays or hosting spirit weeks at work shouldn’t be stressful, but instead a time to reset and rejuvenate with your colleagues.
Dia’s take: “The reason office-wide spirit weeks are so effective is because they get people EXCITED about their companies. When you can have fun with coworkers and celebrate holidays at work, you become a little bit happier. And that makes employees more engaged. That’s what we’re aiming for here.”
There you have it: six of our very best office spirit week ideas that can help bolster employee engagement during the summer months. Exciting, creative, holiday and community-inspired themes are sure to get your employees feeling happier, and of course, more engaged.