It can be difficult feeling "stuck" inside during the beautiful sunshine-filled summer months. Worse yet, many of us experience the additional stress of having kids home from school, celebrations and holidays, and other conflicts that seem to pop up over the summer. Less structure and more events to fit in can be stressful for families. It's a great time to ramp up your wellness culture by promoting activity and healthy eating, which help with stress reduction and our ability to cope.
Summer is a great time for focusing on your organization.
While many of us do enjoy time off during summer, you can also take advantage of the great weather to get some work done for your organization. Summer is actually a great time to start planning and mapping out goals for the next year.
Take advantage of the summer weather and plan a retreat or strategy session for your leadership team. Including recreational activities—such as hiking or golf—as part of the planning session is a great way to lower stress and improve morale. Getting outside of the normal walls of your organization can encourage creativity, as well as more authentic and open input when looking at your organization's goals. Don't forget to include your company's wellness goals, too.
Offer workplace picnics.
Get to know your employees outside of the workplace by offering a few picnics or cookouts throughout the summer. This is the time to encourage healthy summer meals alongside the usual options (burgers, hot dogs and potato salad). Chicken breasts or veggie burgers are easy additions to your grill and provide a balanced option for those that want it. This reestablishes your commitment to your employees' health and wellness, but doesn't eliminate the old standbys for those that prefer them.
Here are a few foods we suggest you try incorporating into your company picnic, alongside your favorites:
- Seasonal fruits and veggies. (Take a team outing to the farmer's market!)
- Whole grain buns and rolls—but don't forget gluten-free options.
- Grilled vegetables on skewers, or as toppings for your main dish.
- Eliminate fat-packed salads and dressings for lighter citrus, vinegar or seasonal options.
- Low-calorie beverages such as water or unsweetened iced tea. If your company allows alcohol, provide lite beers or spritzers.
Increase flexibility within the workplace.
Encouraging your employees to maintain a work-life balance is essential to having a positive work environment and consistent productivity. Turning your work mindset "off" can be a challenge. However, by failing to differentiate your work-life from your personal-life, you can place an immense amount of stress on your body, which can lead to even greater health complications. If this is something that would apply for your company or team, offer some alternate ways to work.
Some ideas for greater flexibility include:
- Work from a local coffee shop or off-site.
- Get a jumpstart on the weekend by having half day Fridays (occasionally).
- Soak up the sun and take your meetings outdoors.
- Offer a more flexible dress code to withstand the scorching summer humidity.
End the summer on a high note.
Give your employees and their families something to look forward to by offering a "field trip" at the end of the summer. Plan a day with no work distractions by exploring the beauty of West Michigan.
Field trip ideas include:
- A picnic in a local park, such as Millennium Park, which offers a variety of activities like swimming or fishing.
- Watching a ball game, such as the Whitecaps.
- Visiting your favorite beach for the day.
This shows that you care about providing a balance of work and home life. Plus, this is a great bonding experience for your employees and their families.
By dedicating the time to show your appreciation for your employees you are ultimately investing back into your company's culture and even better it's future because you will see lower employee turnover, less stress and sickness, and a more collaborative work environment.
Written by Amy Ritsema. Amy graduated from Hope College with a degree in Exercise Science and has been working in Corporate Wellness for over 25 years. Amy cofounded OnSite Wellness in 2006 and continues to enjoy helping organizations bring wellness solutions to their employees. As a Certified Worksite Wellness Program Consultant, she spends most of her workdays designing, developing and implementing wellness programs that fit the needs of each individual organization.