As the weather warms, keep them engaged

Summer benefit ideas for your employees

Last updated on May 14th, 2019 at 12:03 am

Summer is just around the corner. Summers in Wisconsin are short…and everyone here is eager to spend as much time as possible enjoying the warm weather. We thought it would be interesting to learn what our customers and business partners are doing to help their employees enjoy the season! Following are examples from two local companies.

Tim Jarecki, director of human resources at HellermannTyton, shared the following:

  • “Our facilities, all of which are air-conditioned, each have an outside patio area with a grill, picnic tables, umbrellas, etc.”
  • “We promote volunteer activities like local community clean-up days and walk/run/bike events.”
  • “We hold an annual summer picnic.”
  • “The Granville BID sponsors food trucks each Monday. We promote that to our employees and are looking at sponsoring a food truck on-site at our largest manufacturing facility.”
  • “Fitness classes that are normally held indoors are moved outdoors, weather permitting.”
  • “Each lunch room has a ‘toy box’ supplied with summer activity equipment that anyone can use during their break time.”
  • “Our Engineering department does a summer Olympics knock-off event at Dretzka Park.”
  • “We have a summer golf league at Dretzka Park.”

Tim Stewart, an attorney at DeWitt Ross & Stevens, shared: “There are a few things that we do to keep employees motivated and help them to enjoy themselves at work and away from work during the summer.”

  • “First of all, we offer all employees a lot of paid time off from the very start of their employment. Being able to take some time off to re-charge your batteries is an important part of employee engagement and productivity.”
  • “Of course, we see a higher percentage of PTO use during the summer months and we plan for that accordingly. In fact, we have even utilized temporary employees during periods when necessary.”
  • “We also try to keep a positive, fun atmosphere. For example, we have quarterly ice cream socials to celebrate birthdays or just to catch up with each other.”
  • “Probably the coolest thing we will do this spring/summer is during our UPAF Workplace Giving Campaign at our Brookfield office, which is always our most fun week of the year. We are having a talent show. Right now, we have attorneys set to play the guitar, sing and even do stand-up comedy! It will bring everyone together and raise money for UPAF.”

Additional ideas we discovered while researching this topic:

  • Research suggests summer hours can prevent employee burnout and increase productivity in the workplace.
  • To be successful for the company, a summer benefits program should complement the needs of the company.
  • Many companies have implemented the four-day work week (other companies have this benefit not only for summertime, but year-round). For those companies with a four-day work week, employees work 10-hour days for four days, then are off for three full days in the summer months.
  • In some circumstances, companies of varying sizes close for an entire week in summertime. Many include a stipend for this, too.
  • Some companies allow employees to work in an employee garden on-site or in an outdoor seating area during summer months.
  • Company-sponsored volunteer opportunities in the summer help to cultivate relationship-building for employees.

The many benefits to summer programs within a company can be great for employees, but should align with the business needs (as those needs don’t disappear in summer). Some companies utilize temp employees to fill the gap of additional people using PTO (paid time off) in the summertime. One of the most common summer benefits, regardless of industry, is offering summer Fridays with varying implementation options. A standard summer Friday is typically offered Memorial Day to Labor Day; employees leave the office mid-afternoon after putting in extra time throughout the week to make up the hours.

Overall, our research supports that an increasing number of companies are forming summer benefits for employees. These benefits can enhance work-life balance, as well as help increase employee retention. What benefits do you offer employees in the summertime?  

Aleta Norris is a co-founding partner of Brookfield-based Living As A Leader, a leadership training, coaching and consulting firm. You may send questions to her at To read all of her columns, visit the knowledge portal at

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Aleta Norris is a partner and co-founder of Living As A Leader, a national leadership training, coaching and consulting firm. Living As A Leader supports the development of leaders in more than 125 organizations across the country. For several years, Aleta has been researching and speaking about the critical responsibilities organizations and leaders share related to the attraction, retention and engagement of the emerging workforce.

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