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7 Creative Employee Recognition Ideas for Summer

By Daryl Person | May 27, 2015 | Engage Employees

When you hear the word “summer,” you probably picture yourself firing up the grill and
inviting your closest friends and family over for a barbeque. Doesn’t the sun feel nice on your face as you stand there flipping burgers and watching the kids run through the sprinkler? Can’t you just hear the ice cubes clinking in your glass of lemonade?

For most of us, however, summer isn’t much different from any other season of the year. We still have business meetings and client lunches and conference calls; none of that comes to an end when the weather gets nice.

But just because we might rather be lounging on a beach chair doesn’t mean we have to live out the summer months staring longingly out our office windows.

Proactive business leaders make it a point to engage employees year-round, including those tricky summer months that find most people itching to get outdoors. The results speak for themselves: Research shows engaged employees are 202% more likely to outperform those who are not!

Here’s our list of 7 creative employee recognition ideas that can inspire staff to be enthusiastic, confident, and empowered to do great work during the summer months:

1) Offer Flexible Scheduling

Remember that cruise you wanted to take to the Caribbean? Or how about the family trip to Disneyland now that the kids are out of school for the summer?

Like you, your employees use the summer for catching up on some much-needed R&R with their loved ones. Sometimes the best way to recognize the hard work employees are putting in is to offer flexible work scheduling so staff can go on the vacation they’ve been dreaming of all year.

2) Go Casual Around the Office

Since summer is often a time to let loose and relax, why not try relaxing the dress code around the office?

It doesn’t have to be a permanent change (nor should it take effect if there are client meetings or other important events happening around the office): Forbes recommends trying out the casual look for a day at a time. The point is to do something nice for employees and have a little fun at the same time!

3) Practice Random Acts of Recognition

Instead of recognizing an employee for a job well done after the fact, you might try selecting an individual (either deliberately or at random) and then actively finding a reason to recognize the person.


This creative approach encourages you to focus on the individual’s strengths and then observe when he or she applies those strengths. Plus, it adds a little extra incentive for the employee to keep up the good work when he or she might otherwise be daydreaming about an upcoming vacation or day off!

4) Cater Lunch

As the saying goes, “the fastest way to a person’s heart is through his/her stomach.” Bearing this in mind, a good way to reward employees for their hard work and dedication is to cater a meal to show your appreciation.

As noted in an Open Forum blog, ”Lunch with colleagues is fun, breaks up the routine, and keeps employees in the office. It’s an all-around win for anyone who likes to eat.”

5) Reward Employees for Keeping Their Cool

It’s inevitable: In any workplace, there are going to be challenging situations that require employees to keep their composure and professionalism under pressure.

As suggested in an RSW Creative blog on employee recognition, a fun and funny way to reward employees for keeping their cool (especially during the summer months!) is to offer them Popsicles, ice cream, or cold beverages. After all, people tend to smile when there is sugar involved!

6) Coordinate a Team Event

Research shows there is a strong link between positive moods and time spent outdoors in the sunlight. So, if you’re looking for a reason to get your staff together for a team outing or event, summer is the perfect time to do so.

Specific ideas might include coordinating a summer cookout or potluck. Whatever the case, make sure that employees know they’re being rewarded for the excellent work they’ve been doing for the organization.

7) Say “Thank You”

Did you know that saying “thank you” is more than just good manners? Studies have suggested
that “being grateful can improve well-being and physical health, strengthen social relationships, produce positive emotional states, and help us cope with stressful times in our lives.”

To make your appreciation more meaningful and memorable, you might try giving out thank you cards to employees. That way, they can refer back to your sincere sentiment and praise not only during the summer but throughout the entire year!

Final Thoughts

While you may not be sitting at a picnic table or playing Frisbee in the backyard, there are a number of ways to celebrate the summer months inside the office! The above list represents just a few of the ways you can recognize employees for their hard work and dedication and keep them engaged in their work even when the weather gets nice outside.

What sort of creative recognition ideas do you use to engage employees during the summer? What would you add to our list?

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