We celebrated an amazing company picnic a few weeks ago at the Pavilions of Turkey Run in McLean, VA. We laughed a lot, ate some delicious barbecue, mixed and mingled with colleagues, played some yard games, and held a kickball tournament with such valiant efforts by each participant that it was difficult to determine our MVP. Amidst our fast-paced business environment, deadlines, and duties, it was so enjoyable to recharge our brains and connect with one another outside our normal surroundings.
We wanted to share a few takeaways about why it’s important for companies to devote time and effort toward creating noteworthy employee events.
- Fostering the fun matters. When we returned to work the Monday following the picnic, we felt refreshed, renewed, and ready to tackle the challenges of the day. We were energized and more motivated. There is no shortage of data demonstrating that happier employees are good for the enterprise, but perhaps the University of Warwick’s finding says it best: happy employees are 12% more productive. In addition, more content employees have lower levels of absenteeism and turnover and greater job satisfaction. Employers should therefore emphasize that playing hard is just as integral as working hard.
- Teamwork is tops. Coming together, spending time outside the office, and developing interpersonal relationships creates a culture of trust and leads to a stronger sense of community. Employees who feel they’re part of a team are more engaged and invested in the company’s success. They’re also more enthusiastic, flexible, and responsive. The more opportunities companies can provide to work on collaboration and cooperation, the better.
- Cross-departmental can-do. Social gatherings allow individuals across various departments to interact in ways not possible or opportune in a normal office setting. Employees can have a chance to participate in new dialog and look at things from entirely different perspectives, which can generate creative output and innovative problem solving. Breaking down the barriers between operational units at the company can have far-reaching effects.
- The Great Outdoors are truly great. Our wooded parkland setting and beautiful weather made our picnic even more pleasant. And that’s not surprising – numerous studies show that spending time in nature can help soothe the stresses of life, improve mental health, and increase attention span and cognitive performance. At the same time, the EPA reports that the average American spends 90% of their time indoors. Organizations should find ways to get the outdoors back on the agenda. The good news is it doesn’t have to be difficult. If employees aren’t able to physically spend more time in the open air, simply bringing the outside in with plants or floral accents and/or providing views of the outside from within the office itself can bring about physical and emotional benefits for employees.
- Setting the right tone. Organizations who invest in meaningful employee interactions and experiences tend to be able to attract and retain the best people, who then contribute to ongoing business success. Companies should work to ensure successful events aren’t just one time occurrences but are instead a key area of focus because of their ability to contribute to employee well-being and satisfaction.
Company-wide excursions or outings can foster a fun and healthy team culture and re-engage and refocus your team. They may also support your business in some unanticipated ways.