Throwing company events for holidays or special occasions (like the first day of spring on March 20) can be a great opportunity to thank your employees. Now after a long winter, there's a good chance that you and your staff are ready for a break.
In addition to offering a reprieve from the daily grind, celebrating special days with events and parties can benefit the entire company, believes Allen Shayanfekr, CEO of Sharestates, an online marketplace for real estate investing.
“Despite how much you may enjoy going to work each day, it's important to give yourself and your employees a break," says Shayanfekr. “Even when you love your job, you can feel restless and even burnt out. I like to focus on company parties and office events that bring the team together. These events serve a much broader purpose by offering support and encouragement and bolstering employee satisfaction."
Company Events Are More Than Just Parties
Brad Deutser is president of Deutser LLC, a consulting firm that teaches companies to leverage company culture to drive business performance. “Celebrating the success of your business with reasons and seasons, like spring, is an important factor in keeping all employees motivated and inspired," he says. “We live in a society dominated by what is wrong. Embrace positivity and find reasons to celebrate. Your people will appreciate it and you, and their performance will be positively impacted."
—Lior Rachmany, CEO, Dumbo Moving and Storage
Workplace celebrations can boost morale, agrees Angela Sposato, senior vice president of human resources at 5W Public Relations, a full-service PR agency.
“Celebrations show employees that they've made positive contributions to the business and that their achievements are recognized and appreciated," Sposato says. "Celebrations should be moments that invite teams to rejoice over their biggest successes and proudly recount the work that led to the success. Encouragement contributes to a thriving and innovative workplace where employees are motivated to engage, achieve more and stay."
So how can you make the most of company events?
1. Have a purpose.
“Don't have an event just to have an event," says Deutser. “If your goal is fun, then make the company event fun. If it's to learn, then make it informative. Ideally, events should be fun and provide an opportunity to get away and celebrate the team, while also being purposeful and relevant to the business."
Celebrations should have a focus, adds Sposato. “Determine what kind of success is being recognized. Is it a big win for an individual or a remarkably profitable year for the company? Recognize deserving individuals and teams in front of their peers. Reward innovation, a quality that drives business forward. Events should be opportunities for teams to collaborate on fun activities rather than work projects, and for employees who work in different departments to get to know each other."
2. Make company events enjoyable.
“The work family that plays together stays together," says Sposato. “We use widely celebrated days, such as Cinco de Mayo and National Cookie Day, as inspiration for potlucks and cook-offs. These events encourage employees to showcase their creativity and can be turned into friendly competitions with giveaways and prizes."
3. Celebrate away from the office.
“Being able to take a break from work is so important to the mindset of each team member," says Evan Rosenberg, owner of At Your Service Hospitality Group. “We recently took a trip to Brooklyn to see the Nets play at Barclays with our entire staff. It's nice to get out of the office and interact on a more personal level."
Lior Rachmany, CEO of Dumbo Moving and Storage, also advises against throwing company events at the company facility. “You want your employees to be comfortable, and that's hard to do when they're standing by their cubicles. Use a company event as an opportunity to show a side of you that your employees wouldn't normally see."
Leaving the office, even for short breaks, can be one of the best things you can do for your employees and even yourself, believes Raghav Mathur, VP of strategy and business development for G/O Digital, a digital marketing company for businesses.
"We're fortunate to be located in an area with about a dozen coffee shops within walking distance and some great local spots for afternoon treats," says Mathur. "We encourage our employees to leave their desks and meet up with coworkers from other departments to take a walk. Sometimes that's where the best collaboration happens. I have interrupted my team more than once for an impromptu ice cream fix."
4. Decide on a theme for your company event.
“For an injection of creativity, we've visited an art exhibit at a local museum with purposeful discussions to tie back to the theme," says Deutser. “We've also planned family picnics to convey togetherness and scavenger hunts to create teamwork. We've also held giving days that allow participants to learn, grow and give back. And, when all else fails, the old-fashioned cocktail hour creates new bonds and refreshes the organization."
5. Find the ideal venue.
“Your most important first step to a successful company event is locating the ideal venue," says Jayna Cooke, CEO of EVENTup, an online marketplace for event spaces. “From there, you can bring everything else into place. This is an essential first step, because each venue is different. If you want a certain look for a space, for example, some venues don't allow certain decor, so if it's important to have a balloon installation hanging from the ceiling; you'll have to find a venue that can comply."
6. Touch all five senses.
“If you want to leave a lasting impression, affect all five senses in a special way," says AlexAnndra Ontra, co-founder of Shufflrr, a presentation management platform. “For one of our women's events, in addition to a nice venue, we filled the room with flowers, set the tone with an appropriate music playlist and offered plenty of tasty food and drink. On the way out, everyone got flowers and chocolate, and we even provided car service home."
Read more articles on team-building activities.