Beat the summer blahs: 9 tips to boost productivity & fun

by Mary Pender Greene

As the weather warms, the focus and productivity of your employees can sometimes drift. It’s time to create some fun and optimism at work.

Think about simple activities that will help employees feel good and interact with each other on a friendly, personal level.

Here are ideas to try:

1. Create some simple diversions. Choose activities that employees can participate in without stealing too much time away from work. Example: Ask workers to bring in their baby pic­tures, post them on a bulletin board and have a guessing contest.

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2. Help employees lose weight and renew their resolutions to get in shape. Invite a yoga instructor to teach ­classes twice a week. Partner with Weight Watchers to offer on-site meetings. Organize a “Biggest Loser” weight-loss contest among departments. Negotiate with a nearby gym for employee discounts.

3. Invite a financial planner to speak at a brown-bag lunch. Topics: How to pay off credit card bills, save on taxes or save for children’s college.

4. Play music in the office, as long as it won’t distract employees. And consider setting up a “quiet room” with a couple of comfy chairs but no computers or phones, where employees can rest and regroup during breaks.

5. Start flextime so employees can start and end the workday at nontraditional times. Allow workers to arrange their hours so they can come in late on Monday and leave early on Friday.

6. Talk to employees about how the business is doing. A summer slump is bad enough for them without having to worry about whether their jobs are safe or the company is solvent. Explain the good and the bad. Keep everyone apprised of how the organization is coping and what they can expect.

7. Look forward. Invite employees to participate in personal goal-setting with a coach or their managers. Learn about their interests and consider arranging for them to work on projects for other departments.

8. Change the scenery. Hold team meetings at a restaurant every now and then instead of in the office. Institute a “dress-down Friday” policy or start “dress-up Monday” for a change of pace.

9. Lighten up. HR pros can set the pace for a happier workplace by livening up their memos, adding “brights” like jokes and cartoons to staff newsletters, inventing ­company-only “holidays” that come with staff potluck lunches, celebrating birthdays with cake and ice cream and other simple, unexpected treats.

The most important thing employees need to understand is that you understand them. Let them know you care about them as people—and train your organization’s managers to do the same.


Author: Mary Pender Greene is a New York City psychotherapist and career coach. Contact her at