Kip Soteres

3 Ways to Make This Your Workforce’s Healthiest Summer Ever

With long strings of perfect beach days, invitingly sunny hiking trails and the fact that the kids are out of school, summer is a great time to offer employee benefits that promote wellness and a healthy work-life balance.

The options for simple summer perks are endless: flexible schedules, early release Fridays, company-sponsored sports teams, picnics, walk-at-work groups, community service projects — any one of these might spark a new healthy interest.

But how do you make sure you’re providing the summer perks your employees actually want? It’s when employees have personalized benefits that they really take advantage of what you have to offer.

Let Employee Input Guide You to More Effective Summer Offerings

Who has a better sense of which benefits are important than the people they’re meant for?

In winter, establish a group of employees that includes a representative sample of your workforce. Outline your goals for personalized benefits with the employees and invite them to share their thoughts about what would be the most valuable to the most people within the company. Tell the group that participation in summer perks will play a role in determining whether the company continues them in future years.

Pay particular attention to factors that strongly influence benefits usage. Your selection of perks should account for the different needs that employees in different stages of life generally have. A largely young and active workforce might make good use of a biking club. A longer-tenured or more sedentary workforce might appreciate a company garden to work in instead — but be sure to rely on your employees’ input, not stereotypes, to inform your decision. It’s also good to balance individual perks with group activities to encourage team-building and mutual support.

Change Things Up to Keep Employees Engaged

After a while, the same old outings and activities can get a little stale. Summer is an excellent time to spice things up. Try introducing contests, such as measuring steps in a walking program. You may be able to boost participation with some carefully chosen prizes — consider using gifts to incentivize employees. Even better, pick a reward that continues to encourage activity. Gym memberships, travel tickets to an outdoor destination such as a national park or a subscription to a food delivery service are all popular choices.

Summer is also the time to offer discounts at pools, mini-golf courses, water parks and other “fun in the sun” classics. These activities give employees with families the chance to take a break from the usual routine and strike a good work-life balance while also promoting healthy pastimes. Help kids reduce their screen time by encouraging participating families to leave their cellphones behind.

Looking for more inspiration? The Washington Post sponsors walking tours of museums, galleries and interesting architectural sites, while companies like Appian sponsor employee retreats that encourage camaraderie and active lifestyles. These activities don’t necessarily have to be saved for the summertime, but they can easily be tailored to warm weather.

Use Personalized Benefits to Support Long-Term Health

Summer presents opportunities upon opportunities for employees to get out and try healthy activities, which can lay the foundation for them to establish good habits that can continue year-round. It’s never too late to start getting creative with personalized benefits, so try planning new ways of getting your employees active and engaged, either this summer or further into the future.

Changing seasonal offerings tells your workforce that you recognize their interests and needs shift over time, whether because of the weather or because something is different in their life. A summer program also allows you to offer benefits on a trial basis, often at reduced cost to the organization. A new initiative or activity that does particularly well might eventually become a year-round benefit, or it may just become a regular feature on your summer circuit of offerings. Either way, supporting custom seasonal benefits is a smart way to serve the employees at your workplace, support staff retention and reinforce a company culture of wellness.

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