Company Picnic Planning: Strategies for Rallying RSVPs

Summer solstice marks the official kick-off to summer this weekend and summer party season will be in full swing. Holding a company picnic is just one way to celebrate the great weather; however, busy employees often find excuses to skip the party. Read on for some actionable strategies to round up those RSVPs!

It's the start of summer, which also means the beginning of summer vacations and summer party season.

Scores of businesses plan to take advantage of the next few months to organize company picnics, as a chance for employees to build camaraderie and socialize with coworkers outside of the work environment. However, for many busy professionals, spending their precious free time in the summer months at a work-related outing just isn’t appealing.

For those who might be planning a company picnic and hoping to rally employees to RSVP and show up, it can be helpful to “sell” the many short- and long-term benefits that spending time with your manager and colleagues outside of the office can provide. Getting outside of a structured work environment offers the opportunity to:

  • Break bread and bond with personnel outside your department. Whether it’s Luis in HR or Kris in IT, chances are that interfacing with individuals who work in other departments beyond company meetings is scarce. Yet, when your computer crashes or your benefits statement arrives and doesn’t look right, you will unfailingly need to call on these same individuals for help. Spending time together at company-wide outings offers a relaxed, open environment for building a relationship with those that work outside of your team, and can ultimately enrich your work experience by adding a friendly face to future communications.
  • Make an impression with leadership. It’s one thing to be vying for projects and face time with your manager while he or she is going about the work day, but it's quite another to be sharing a laugh or experience while doing something fun. Work relationships are built on trust, and the more common ground you can find, and the more time you spend with those you work with, the more you get to know your coworkers and are able to build trust. Enabling your management team to see part of the "real you" beyond just your work performance, and to stand out from the crowd of peers, will at the very least enhance your working relationship, and at best, potentially lead to increased opportunities and/or added responsibilities.
  • Overcome work tensions with teammates. Let’s face it, even the most laid-back individuals can sometimes butt heads or disagree on certain issues that arise at the office. Working with other people means adapting and collaborating with other work styles, and in order to progress, team members need to rise above any personality conflicts amongst their team. Summer parties and outings in a work-free environment allow people to interact without projects and deadlines at the top of the mind. And never underestimate the power of laughter – when it comes time to serve up at the company picnic, squeezing the ketchup bottle and sharing a collective laugh at the sound that an empty one makes can help ease any tensions.
  • Tap into your pride and positivity about where you work. When the alarm sounds in the morning after a few days away, it can be hard to feel motivated to come into work. Building camaraderie with your peers and formulating a social network within the office helps boost morale and gives you an outlet for a relief from job-related stress. Forming connections with individuals, whether it’s to ask for advice, go out to lunch together or simply share water-cooler banter, are the foundations of a positive work environment. Seeing the "human side" of those that you work with on a day-to-day basis enables you to take greater pride in both your work and in spending time with the individuals with whom you work every day.

Beyond these strategies, one alternate way to boost the number of employees who come to these often voluntarily-attended events is to schedule them during the workday – but that can often be out of the hands of control for party planners.

Have you quashed party poopers and planned a successful company picnic or summer party before? If so, please share your suggestions below.

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