A summer outing can be a great way to bring coworkers together, build camaraderie and enjoy the season. But planning the event does not always feel like a picnic in the park! Here are 9 tips to make your summer party a hit.
Nail the Logistics
Consider your guests, and your goals, when deciding when and where to host your outing. "We suggest doing events during work time if you can, because attendance will fly through the roof," says Jacob Carlson, founder and director of Just Enjoy, a Boston-based event planning company. And avoid venues where employees could feel "stuck" for a period of time, like a dinner cruise. Instead, look for a venue like a waterfront resort, with various options for activities and entertainment. If you create an interesting atmosphere, people will want to be there.
List Your Goals
Plan what you want to achieve. "We want everyone to have fun -- absolutely. But beyond that, what does the company want to get out of it?" says Murrel Karsh, an event planner at Windy City Fieldhouse. If your goal is relationship-building, make sure your event combines team activities, such as a volleyball tournament or scavenger hunt, with time for informal socialization.
Keep It Professional
Just because you're out of the office doesn't mean you aren't at work. You can serve alcohol; just be smart. Over-served employees acting unprofessionally could put themselves, or the company, at risk. Manage alcohol consumption by giving everyone two free drink tickets and asking that they pay for any additional adult beverages.
Helping people get to and from the event goes a long way, especially if it's more than a half-hour from the office.
Make a Memorable Moment
Give your employees something to talk about before and after the event by offering a unique attraction and promoting it leading up to the outing. Email teasers, like "Cowboy up for the CEO's Mechanical Bull Challenge," are bound to create buzz.
Hashtag the Event
You know your employees will be armed with smartphones, so create a hashtag for your outing and invite everyone to post fun photos. By getting ahead of the urge to Facebook and tweet, you can seize the opportunity to portray your company in a positive light.
Consider the Kids
If many of your employees have children and you'll be inviting them, make sure to plan activities that will keep the kids engaged. A bouncy house is great, but without structure, many children will demand their parents' attention for most of the day. Plan a few field games, like a water balloon toss or musical chairs. "This creates an environment where the kids are happy and the adults can do some stuff with their kids, but aren't held to being there the whole time," says Karsh.
If you're expecting a lot of young children to attend the outing, consider offering on-site child care through a service that can bring entertaining babysitters to your event.
Invest in Food
As the saying goes, 'good food brings people together.' Burgers and dogs are fine summer fare, but something more interesting, like catering from a local favorite or well-known barbecue place, will show employees you're going above and beyond. Whatever the menu, be sure to include options that every guest can eat, including vegetarians, vegans and gluten-free eaters.
Conduct a Poll
Ask your employees what they want. Send out an informal poll that can give you a sense of food they'd like, timing, level of activity and if they'll be bringing kids. This info will help you design a party with your employees' insights in mind. Then, follow up after the event with questions on how they think it went and what they'd want next year.