..School’s out! After a long year, we’re all ready for a nice break and some R&R. For some teachers, support staff, janitorial crew and food service team, the break can be a double-edged sword. The academic calendar provides wonderful flexibility for families and people looking for a non-traditional schedule, but having a couple of unpaid months can be both a respite and a stressor.

How do you keep morale high, keep your team engaged, and make sure you’re ready to hit the ground running for the next year when you’re not together?

Here are some easy ways to keep your team happy and engaged during the summer months:

Keep in touch.

It seems simple, but regular touchpoints can go a long way toward keeping employees engaged and feeling cared for. Communication is a two-way street; find creative ways to stay in touch, both in outreach and creating conversations. “This year, we launched a platform called TextHR,” said Carmen Eiland, Pedestal Foods Human Resources Business Partner. “It’s been a great way for us to communicate with our teams via text in the summer and throughout the year.”

Some of our schools have used existing platforms to keep the conversation going. For example, it doesn’t cost a dime to set up private Facebook groups for school communities to stay in touch until fall rolls around. “Keeping your team culture strong over the summer doesn’t take a lot of time or effort, but it pays off with a positive, strong start to the school year,” said Kathy Roeder, Vice President, Human Resources.

Celebrate back to school.

We encourage our schools to plan “Back to School” picnics just for employees and staff. From potlucks and ice cream socials to “yard Olympics” and bonfires, gathering your team together after a summer apart not only boosts camaraderie, but gives your team something fun to look forward to and plan together during the summer months.

Other schools ask teams to bring photos and souvenirs to display on a bulletin board to show off their summer fun. Think of some creative ways to celebrate the end of summer and frame coming back to work as a positive, exciting experience and you’ll welcome a more rested, engaged team in the fall.

Grow your team.

Put your team to work recruiting for open positions during the summer! Keep your employees informed and involved when it comes to growing your team, and give them ownership in helping to build a great group that’s fun to work with.

Several of our school teams have created summer referral programs with bonuses, prizes, and accolades for the team members who bring in the most candidates. Others have extended their picnic celebrations to include a “bring a friend” incentive, so prospects can get a feel for the best of our company culture and teams can get a sense of prospective newcomers’ culture fit.

Listen carefully.

Employee satisfaction surveys are a wonderful way to keep your team engaged during downtime. Get your team thinking about improvements and changes you can easily plan for during the summer, then communicate your plans with them before they return. You’ll build rapport with your team, your employees will feel heard and valued, and you’ll gain invaluable insights into making your programs stronger, more efficient, and more effective.

Help bridge the paycheck gap.

A pause in income can create a lifestyle curveball, even when it’s expected. As an employer, we help ease that stress by simply helping our teams anticipate the pause in income, being sensitive to that disruption, and bridging the gaps any way we can.

“Employees who are eligible for company benefits maintain eligibility all year, not just while they are working,” said Kathy Roeder. “For those who intend to return, we assist them with filing unemployment claims so that there is minimal delay in receiving their payment from the state. It’s a gesture that goes a long way.” Our units also allow employees to use PTO to bridge the gap between their final paycheck and unemployment benefits.

Whether it’s helping employees create a year-long budget to plan for decreased income, creating a summer opportunities community job board, or simply checking in on team members over the summer, that non-financial support means a lot to teams on hiatus.


You know your employees are an asset to your organization; helping them stay connected and feel valued over the summer months is crucial to job satisfaction and retention. It doesn’t take a lot of time or effort to show them a little love over the summer… and when you do, they’ll love you right back in the coming school year and for many more to come.