Summertime, and the living is easy \u2026 if you are on vacation. For those workers, however, who have to toil through the long, hot summer months, the season can be a drag. So how do you keep productivity from dragging between July 4th and Labor Day? Here are some tips from HR experts on how to keep workers engaged and motivated over the summer.\n1. Conduct meetings outdoors. \u201cIt's a well-known fact that vitamin D has numerous health benefits when enjoyed safely and in moderation,\u201d says Dominique Jones, vice president of human resources, Halogen Software, the makers of employee performance management software. \u201cSo, rather than holding your meetings inside, wishing you were out enjoying some sun, [go] outside [to get] work done. The great thing about technology is that it supports working outside. Your devices \u2013 laptop, tablet and smartphone \u2013 can connect to Wi-Fi and keep everyone plugged in if need be.\u201d\n\u201cUnless you need a projector, it's easy to take meetings outdoors,\u201d says Neal McNamara, communication manager, TINY Pulse, which specializes in employee engagement. \u201cEveryone here has one-on-one meetings each week with their supervisor, and we take walks during those rather than sit in a conference room.\u201d\n2. Sponsor fun tournaments and team-building activities. \u201cRe-energize your team by sponsoring tournaments during the workday, be it ping-pong or soccer [or something else],\u201d says Deb LaMere, vice president, HR strategy & employee engagement, Ceridian, a global human capital management technology company. \u201cAnother option to mix things up during the workday is to host theme days. For instance, a \u2018Take Me Out to the Ballgame\u2019 day can include having a batting cage set up, foods you would find at the ballpark, like hot dogs and popcorn, lemonade and root beer, and employees wearing shirts with their favorite team\u2019s logo.\u201d\n Thinkstock\n\u201cDuring the summer, eVestment hosts fitness challenges, 3-on-3 basketball tournaments, golf matches, and softball and soccer teams,\u201d says Mitchell Johnson, CTO, eVestment, a big data and analytics company serving the global institutional investment industry. \u201cWe even have a flower and vegetable garden behind our office that employees maintain. These activities generally occur during work hours, so they help break up the day,\u201d he explains.\nThe bottom line: \u201cGiving employees structured events so they can get outside, enjoy the nice weather and get a break makes them more focused and happy when they are back inside at work.\u201d\n3. Plan fun department or company outings. \u201cCompany-planned summer outings, like mini golf, pool parties or bowling, are a great way to keep employees motivated, getting [them] out of the office and forming [or strengthening] personal relationships [with coworkers],\u201d says Michelle Dinsmore, vice president, Overit, a creative agency. These types of outings invigorate and refresh workers and often lead to great new ideas.\n Thinkstock\n4. Sponsor picnics. The way to your employees\u2019 hearts may, in fact, be through their stomachs. \u201cOne day have an ice cream truck or a lunch truck appear [and] provide a time for employees to leave their desks and enjoy a little food and fellowship outside,\u201d says Ashley White, director of Human Resources for APQC, a proponent of business benchmarking, best practices and knowledge management research.\n\u201cWe have a number of picnics planned throughout the summer, either brown-bag style lunches or where the company pays for food\/refreshments,\u201d adds McNamara, which are always good for morale.\nAnd at 911 Restoration, a nationwide company that repairs property after disasters, during the summer, lunch \u201cturns into a buffet of food laid out nicely set up in the warehouse where everyone gets two hours to eat, speak and more,\u201d says Scott Kennard, a PR specialist at the company.\n\n\t\n\n5. Hold an after-work happy hour. \u201cWe organize nonmandatory happy hours right after work,\u201d says Hajmil Carr, CEO, TrueLine Publishing, a B2B digital publishing and custom media-marketing firm. \u201cIn the summer, we send out emails inviting everyone to happy hours that take place on outside decks at watering holes walking distance to the office,\u201d he says. \u201cAlthough it\u2019s not technically a work-sanctioned function, we usually have a manager pick up the first few rounds so that everyone has a good time. Sending sun-thirsty staff a picture of a pi\u00f1a colada or a margarita via email on a beautiful day keeps people focused until the bell rings. Then we all head out together to enjoy the weather.\u201d\n Thinkstock\n6. Allow employees to leave early or work from home on Fridays. \u201cDuring the summer months, [we allow] employees [to] work from home on Fridays,\u201d says Christina Rae, president, Buzz Creators, a boutique PR and marketing firm. \u201cThis helps cut down on commute time and helps boost employee morale.\u201d\n\u201cWe offer our employees summer Fridays, so that between Memorial Day and Labor Day they can leave at 3 p.m. at the end of the week, [if the] necessary work is completed by that time,\u201d says Dinsmore. \u201cThe team is more productive throughout the week because they want to take advantage of their Friday afternoons.\u201d\n7. Allow workers to have more flexible schedules and work remotely (not just on Fridays). \u201cDon\u2019t hesitate to allow employees to work from home (or their beach house) on occasion,\u201d says Jesse Lipson, general manager and vice president at Citrix, a provider of cloud, mobile, virtualization, collaboration and networking services. \u201cWith the technology available today, like videoconferencing solutions and remote desktop applications, employees working off-site can be just as productive and connected out of the office as they can be in the office.\u201d\n\u201cWe offer incentives that allow people to leave early if they hit their sales quota,\u201d says Carr. \u201cAll we care about is the bottom line number. If an employee can turn on the after-burners and get more done in a day to earn an early departure, they feel more empowered and actually work harder in less time,\u201d he says. \u201cIf they produce the results and hit quotas, early releases are more profitable than forcing people to be somewhere they don\u2019t want to be. There is no loss because they only leave if they hit quota, which means they are still profitable.\u201d\n8. Encourage workers to be creative. \u201cWith our \u201810% Projects,\u2019 our engineers are encouraged to spend company time on a regular basis developing prototypes in an effort to explore new technologies and new solutions for our clients,\u201d says Johnson. \u201cThe results and ROI have been tremendous, and we have a lot of fun with it. Summer is a great time to experiment and devote time to these projects given that it is an off-peak time for our clients. So we encourage our folks to get into our virtual laboratories and innovate.\u201d\n9. Reward employees \u2013 with bonuses, days off, prizes or frequent flyer miles. \u201cMoney is a driving factor for any job, and during the summer, [it can pay to provide employees with] extra bonus opportunities,\u201d says Kennard. Knowing you will get a bonus for meeting (or exceeding) goals, or taking on additional work, \u201ckeeps us focused on our tasks and continuing to do better.\u201d\nGetting an extra day off is also a powerful motivator.\n\u201cTo keep everyone motivated in the summer months, I offer an 'extra' vacation day for those who meet or surpass their goals,\u201d says Nellie Akalp, CEO, CorpNet, which helps entrepreneurs start or grow a business. \u201cI find that adding in that extra vacation day really amps up my team to hit those phones and make those sales.\u201d\nYou can also offer workers prizes for meeting summertime goals.\n\u201cWhether employees are looking for premium noise-canceling headphones or the latest products in sports equipment, offering an incentive with a desirable and useful reward keeps them engaged,\u201d says John Mangini, marketing manager, Rymax Marketing Services.\nYou can also reward hard-working employees with free tickets or hotel stays.\n\u201cTravel incentives are the ultimate enticement for an adventure-seeking employee,\u201d Mangini says. \u201cThird-party loyalty providers give the option of redeeming points earned for frequent flyer miles. This helps employees plan and pay for their trip. It is a unique opportunity to retain and positively influence employees [with] wanderlust."