Summer has finally arrived and with it, hot weather and plenty of sunshine!  Usually around this time of year, your employees would typically take time off to travel or spend time with their family.  This summer, however, will look a little different.  As we continue to deal with the ramifications of a global pandemic, our ability to travel or partake in our annual summer activities has been greatly affected.  As a result, your employees may be facing low morale or frustration at our current state of affairs.  While it may seem like our summer has been ruined, I’m here to tell you and your employees that it isn’t!

There are still many things we can do to normalize our summer, some uniquely tailored to us as employers.  Here are my recommendations for enjoying a normal summer even though it’s anything but normal.

Engage your employees

In the past, I have engaged my employees by offering complimentary lunches, summer work hours and other fun activities to boost morale and build a stronger team.  While it may not be in your best interest to offer a summer BBQ this year, both from a financial and health perspective, you may opt for other fun alternatives.  Consider hosting a BYOF (bring-your-own-food) virtual potluck or social hour, or host virtual team-building activities that increase engagement.  There are a variety of online opportunities to send your staff gift cards in appreciation for their work including Netflix, Amazon, Uber Eats and so much more. 

Additionally, consider offering summer hours for your employees to take advantage of a shorter workday or week.  We’ve all been working extremely hard these past few months, and your employees will appreciate you acknowledging their hard work with additional perks. 

Promote positive thinking

Our inner voices can have a profound impact on how we feel.  For this reason, promote positive thinking and mindfulness in your organization.  Positive thinking has been linked to increased life span and better psychological and physical well-being.  Consider hosting a mindfulness workshop or lunch break to start the summer off right.  Next time you hear someone say their summer is “ruined”, encourage them to reframe their mindset and show them just how much they can still do.  Remember, it’s all about feeling like you’re having a normal summer, even though you may not be.

Promote the outdoors

As Canadians, it’s important for us to take advantage of the limited amount of warmth and sunshine we get each year.  Not only is summer the perfect time to take a break from the stresses of work, but sun exposure also plays an important role in regulating vitamin D in our bodies.  There are even studies showing that taking vitamin D will strengthen our response to the COVID-19 virus! For these reasons, encourage your employees to attend their favourite parks, beaches, and campgrounds, but advise them to do so responsibly by following public health guidelines.  Depending on your team, you could even create a healthy employee summer challenge, monthly scavenger hunts, or birdwatching photo competition. Talk to your team at your next Zoom team meeting and brainstorm with them on a few activities to participate in over the summer.

Explore your province

It’s also the perfect time to enjoy a staycation!  Encourage your employees to explore their own provinces and other parts of Canada (where allowed).  For longer trips, they could rent an RV, trailer, or large tent. Canada is home to a diverse range of landforms and some of the most beautiful natural landscapes on Earth!  Make sure to let them know that they will need to look for any province-specific rules regarding non-essential travel and mandatory quarantines prior to travelling.

Even though our summer may not be exactly how we planned, you can support your employees through the summer months and hope to “normalize” a very abnormal situation by creating innovative activities for them to have fun, de-stress, and relax.  You may also remind them that their Employee Assistance Program is a great resource that is available to them 24/7.