One summer, I was interning at a law firm in San Francisco hoping to impress the partners enough that they would offer me a job after I graduated the next year. This was back in the day, when law firms really wined-and-dined their potential associates.
They took us river rafting, we had drinks at partners’ homes overlooking the bay, we were invited out to fancy dinners, and we even went hot-air ballooning one day. Oh yeah, we did a little work too. Needless to say, I really wanted to work for these folks. “They really know how to treat their employees well!” I thought.
I thought wrong. What they knew was how to recruit well. It actually turned out to be a terrible place to work, and in that sense is was a lesson in reverse. What employees want and what makes for a happy workplace and great culture is treating employees right – not only right from the start, but all along the way.
The savvy business owner knows this. Indeed, one of the smartest things you can do, especially this time of year, is to take advantage of the natural rhythms of the season and treat employees to some summer fun.
Here are a few effective ideas:
1. Flexible work hours: I saw a survey not long ago stating that 45% of entrepreneurs surveyed said that they reward their staff with flexible hours and/or they let them work from home. While this used to be a far-fetched idea, it is now easy and commonplace today. Between the cloud, smart phones, apps, and laptops, anyone can work anywhere, anytime.
So let them.
Especially during the summer, it makes sense to give employees some extra flexibility, some time to enjoy the nice weather and get work done at a time that’s maybe more convenient. They will appreciate it and reward you with their loyalty and hard work.
2. Amenities like free lunch, massages, etc. When you see a television segment about successful Internet companies like Google or Facebook, one thing that is very noticeable is the amount of free (or subsidized) things available, like food, massages, foosball and so on.
For the small business, you might consider installing a basketball hoop in the parking lot or offering free, healthy snacks like fruit and water. Affordable, and appreciated.
3. Team building events: Especially in the summertime, when everyone is thinking about a lot more than just work, a fun event together, away from the office, is often just what the doctor ordered. Whether it’s going to dinner, a game or concert together, a team-building event, well, builds the team.
4. Encourage break time outside: One easy, affordable way to recharge the troops is to encourage them to take breaks outdoors with coworkers. Encouraging health and well-being is always appreciated by employees, especially in the summer.
5. Mix up the routine: Changing up daily routines reduces stress, boosts morale, and keeps people engaged. Try having a ‘bike to work’ day.
6. Unexpected freebies: Have a spontaneous contest and give the winner a pair of seats to a sporting event. Buy gift cards and hand them out. Give everyone an unannounced afternoon off.
This is the time of year when people like to take advantage of the outdoors. Let them. You will all win.
About Steve Strauss
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.
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