Whatever Happened to the Company Picnic?

Group of friends having a picnic

Remember the company picnics of yesteryear? The large outings where employees and their families would come together, and for a few hours, you’d feel that you were all part of the same family? That kind of culture, the one that celebrates togetherness and teamwork, that is what separates the average company from a great one.

Through fun and regular bonding exercises like picnics and day trips, you can show your employees that you’re invested in fostering a better company culture.

I’ve always felt that celebrating as a company—as a team—was one of the best ways to unite employees and management in comradery, and to really improve the quality of your company culture. After all, Dale Carnegie once said:

“People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they’re doing.” (Don’t forget one of our important core values – HR is Fun!)

Playing together isn’t just about having fun, though; and yes, fun is an important part of a solid company culture. More than that, the sense of togetherness is what drives companies forward prosperously and effectively. Positive company cultures are the simplest means to keeping employees and attracting new ones.

Challenges to the development of togetherness

We’ve all been there. The company heads out to an amusement park with families in tow, but there’s always someone who can’t come because they “have to work” or because it’s too expensive to bring the whole family, despite the discounts and often free admission for employees. Life can present its share of hurdles to cultivating that sense of company togetherness, but I have good news for you:

You can inspire a better culture and it doesn’t have to cost you money or put anyone in a tight spot.

Employees are good at picking up on the vibe and energy of the workplace, especially when management is involved; but it’s important to listen to what your employees need and to act on it. It’s not just about doing something spontaneous or giving them an hour of free time during the work day to have lunch together. It’s about putting the time and consideration into it that reflects the kind of culture you want to encourage. The less effort and time management puts into the company culture, the less relevant it becomes.

Why that old-fashion company picnic matters today more than ever

There are a number of benefits to keeping events like those company picnics alive in one way or another. Obviously, they don’t have to be actual picnics, but the idea of getting everyone together with as few hurdles as possible should be maintained. The likes of picnics, outings, and hikes can usually be done on a minimal budget and often times if you do something outdoors, you can invite everyone to bring food to share.

These kinds of events can show family support and that you value, and have an interest, in the personal lives of your employees. Children, spouses, and friends are an important part of anyone’s life, and hosting get-togethers that encourage employees to bring them along shows you have a vested interested in their happiness, even while they’re not at work. Don’t want to do a picnic off-site? Do a cookout on-site. Use a caterer for the small stuff if you want to but imagine the message you can send if YOU are the one cooking their lunch?

In today’s world of overworked, overstressed employees, it can be crucial to the success of any company to take the time to demonstrate your commitment to your employees, and to their happiness. They have lives outside of the workplace, filled with plenty of woe and joy, responsibilities and fun; but a company that can occasionally learn to blur the line between work and life, that can remind everyone that you understand life is about more than time sheets, is one who has a much easier time earning the respect of its employees.

Employees who respect and trust their employers are much likelier to invest more of their own time in improving themselves on the job and stick around longer. It’s those same people and the culture you build with them that ultimately attracts new recruits looking to find a company that understands them and their needs.

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