With the summer in full swing, now is the perfect time to get in some quick and easy office bonding

With the summer in full swing, now is the perfect time to get in some quick and easy office bonding. Keeping your employees happy and cultivating good working relationships is a proactive way to keep your turnover down and worker happiness up. The main reason that people stay at a job is because they like the people they work for and with. Happy workers are also more productive and provide better customer service, so if you want employees to stay engaged in the work and bring their best to work everyday; it is wise to invest in building workers bonds.

Many companies hire outside parties to come into the office and hold company bonding events that are educational or instructional. While this practice is good in theory, it tends to be expensive and create fewer interoffice bonds than these companies would lead you to believe. Other businesses take their employees on outings or retreats. This can also be timely and expensive and leave many of your employees wishing they were at home with their families instead of having forced fun. Unless you can take your entire staff to Hawaii like Oprah Winfrey did, off campus trips are often not worth the time and money. On the other hand, effective office bonding can be cheap and easy by simply organizing an office picnic at a nearby park.

Organizing a picnic is an inexpensive and logistically simple way to get your employees together and create deeper company bonds. Your company picnic will insure that everyone knows each other, strengthen existing bonds and create new ones. At a picnic, allow and encourage your employees to bring their partners, their kids, and their dogs and let their hair down around their co-workers. This kind of out-of-office bonding is rarely done, and can be a great way to ward off job hopping.

To organize your office picnic, start by appointing someone to be in charge of the picnic. Choose an organized and enthusiastic person on your support staff to be the point person for the effort. Have them do some initial communication about the picnic such as a sign in the break room or an email invite. A headcount of interested parties should be taken in order to start making arrangements. The coordinator can then choose a date and time that suits as many people as possible. Sunday mid-afternoons tend to be the best times because they won’t interfere with most religious events or family get-togethers. An evening after work is also possible during long summer days. Make sure to scope out a spot for your picnic before inviting your employees. Choose a spot that has a covered picnic table(s) if possible or a shady spot with picnic tables and grills. Choose another spot as a backup since your first choice could be taken on the day of the picnic. If any of your employees have dogs, make sure that the park you choose is pet-friendly. If your employees have children, make sure that the spot you pick is close to a jungle gym. Send your employees a map and directions to your picnic location along with the phone number of the point person. Let them know that they can call this person if they get lost or have a question.

The company should foot the bill for the food. Use a grocery list and purchase what you need before the picnic. Buy enough meat, buns, sides, drinks and ice for your employees making sure to account for any dietary needs that your employees or their spouses have (this information should be gathered when you do your final headcount). You can encourage your employees to bring desserts or a homemade specialty if you like. If you know that lots of children will be present at the picnic, you can bring Frisbees or water guns for them to play with.

Arrive at the picnic fifteen minutes ahead of time to setup. Appoint two willing people to grill duty. This can be a hot job in the summer and it helps to have a tag team manning the grill. The owner or President of the company should not be on grill detail as they should be making sure to speak to everyone. This is the time for the boss to socialize and express their appreciation for their employees by taking an interest in them and their family.

Keep things light and have fun. If you want to add structure to your picnic, you can start with opening words of welcome and praise for your team’s hard work. Otherwise, I suggest letting your employees organically mingle and get to know one another. Above all, lead by example by being relaxed and talking casually to everyone at the picnic. For more information about how you can grow your company the smart way, visit www.flourishingbusiness.com.

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