Is there a more welcome sight to the frost-bitten eyes of Minnesotans than the summer sun? That first day the mercury rises above 60 degrees, spirits lift and visions of weekends at the cabin begin to dance through our heads. Rising summer temperatures bring a whole new set of challenges for company leaders in the daily battle to keep the workforce engaged and productive here in Minnesota and across the country. According to a Captivate Network study, productivity drops 20 percent during the summer months. Additionally, workers spend more time at the water cooler talking about their weekend plans than at their workstation—they are found to be 45 percent more distracted when things warm up outside—resulting in projects taking 13 percent more time to complete. However, the dog days of summer do not mean your business needs to go on vacation and grind to a productive halt. In fact, summer is actually a perfect opportunity for businesses to flex their creative muscles and find engaging, meaningful (and fun) ways to connect with employees. More and more companies are in for the fight of their life to attract and keep top talent. Compelling employee engagement that shows that leadership “getting it” is one of the most powerful intangibles a business can offer. So here’s one summer “to do” list for leaders to consider to positively impact employees and keep businesses (and bottom lines) on the path toward success: Be Thoughtful—The best companies have their finger on the pulse of their employees. They talk with their teams, listen to their needs and use the information to proactively come up with ways to positively impact their work experience. Find out what means the most to your employees and use your resources to create meaningful engagement that reaches teams on a personal level. Be Flexible—At Beehive we have “summer hours” that allow employees to extend their work day Monday through Thursday so they can get a jumpstart on their weekend with shortened Friday hours. Giving employees the autonomy over how, when and even where they work can enhance their ability to manage job responsibilities against the draw of the great outdoors and the sunshine beaming through their office window. It can also inspire workers to complete their work in less time allowing more time for fun. Be Active— Everyone, and I mean everyone, wants to be outside when the weather is picture perfect. Smart businesses can find engagement strategies that encourage employees to get active and find fun while at work during the summer. Big ideas like kickball games or office Olympics can boost morale and teamwork, or simple things like encouraging “breaks” in the day to get up from your desk, get outside and soak up some vitamin D can rejuvenate and re-energize employees. Be Free—Employees invest a lot of time, effort and energy to drive your business forward. They earn their vacation time and should be encouraged to take it. Whether they decide to sip piña coladas in a tropical oasis or pitch a tent in the Boundary Waters, taking a break can do wonders for employees’ mental and physical health. Entrepreneur.com states more than 50 percent of employees feel more “rested, rejuvenated and reconnected to their personal life,” and nearly 40 percent of workers “feel more productive and better about their job” after returning from vacation. Everyone loves summer and after the long winter months its warm, magnetic pull can be tough to resist. Rather than work up a sweat worrying about it, companies should focus on finding creative ways to get work done while still celebrating the season.