Zohar Lazar

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy. So the song says, but your staff and crew work hard year-round and now’s the ideal time to treat them to a little summer fun that won’t break the bank.

While many companies celebrate summer with an altered workweek — every other Friday afternoon off or some variation thereof — that won’t work for your field crew. Can you picture your clients in the midst of their half-finished remodel scratching their heads as your workers leave for the weekend around lunchtime? It wouldn’t inspire confidence … or referrals.

Michael Anschel, principal at Otogawa-Anschel Design-Build, in Minneapolis, and a frequent REMODELING blogger, has never thought of employee perks as seasonal. He gives employees a day off on their birthday with just one rule: they must relax or have fun. “I guess one of the perks at our company is unlimited unpaid time off,” he says. “In other words, it’s OK to call in healthy because the sun is out and you want to go kayaking or biking.”

Chicago area’s Normandy Builders takes the fun into its parking lot for a series of “lot lunches” where the managers grill a variety of meats for the staff. Like many companies, Normandy also holds its company picnic in the summer with the added incentives of games and contests with prizes, food, as well as pony rides, face painters, bouncy houses, and the juiciest summertime perk of all, a watermelon-eating contest.

The boys of summer are a favorite at Baugher Design & Remodel, in Birmingham, Ala. They all go to a Birmingham Barons baseball game, and if it’s 25 cent hot dog night, all the better! CEO Rob Baugher says that his favorite perk has been a guys-only night out at the local cineplex. “Every Thursday we watch a movie that our wives would not care about seeing,” Baugher explains, adding that he and the guys eat all the junk food they want without anybody telling them to watch their weight. “Male bonding at its best!” he enthuses. Since everyone gets home in time to take out the garbage, walk the dog, or run errands, their wives don’t care. “This might be saving my marriage!” he adds.

Cincinnati–based Meyer Brothers & Sons once purchased a cow and divvied up the pieces among the staff, creating a new way to have a beef with your boss!

—Mark A. Newman, senior editor, REMODELING. http://www.remodelingmag.com