Opportunities that allow a company to bring their entire teams together are rare and are generally viewed as a big expense. What many employers do not see are the intangible benefits which have been described as “invaluable” by the staff and managers who attend company events.
Those who attend remember the newly formed relationships, fun times shared with co-workers, a delicious “free lunch”, and the times that they can “put a face to the voice” with someone on the other side of the building or from another location. They will share stories and a connection beyond the barbecue.
Making this investment in time and expense also shows your team that the company is willing to invest in them. Here are a few “ROI” points you should consider when determining when, where, and why you should host a company barbecue. Let’s start with the “when and where”…
Avoiding Vacation Times
When you are deciding on the best date to host your company’s barbecue, we recommend avoiding the weeks before and after July 4th, the first few weeks of August, and “back to school time” which is the last week of August and the first week of September.
The Time of Day
The time of day for a barbecue is decided by your goal and budget. If your goal is to just offer a fun “free lunch”, then scheduling your event from Noon to 2 PM would work best. This allows your staff to finish-up a few emails after spending time with management and co-workers at the barbecue and before they leave for the day. Our professional recommendation that you start the barbecue at 1 PM and continue it through the rest of the work day. This will allow your team to be hungry and ready, with emails completed, morning meeting follow-up taken care of, and phone calls returned. Also, if you have a call center or department that needs to be staffed at all times, you can send your staff to eat in shifts, so that everyone gets an hour or two to enjoy the great barbecue foods, and mingle with co-workers they only see in the hallways.
Locations that Work
Not all companies have a big, beautiful flat grassy area surrounding their building, but that does not stop them from hosting company barbecues. Ideally, hosting your barbecue at your site reduces the logistical needs and cost of transporting your staff to the barbecue site or venue. We have managed company event logistics many times and hired tent companies to tent entire parking lots or grass areas to protect your team from Summer storms or the Summer sun. We can work with local parks and venues with outdoor spaces that will suit your needs if you need more space than what you have. Whatever your decision, we find that the atmosphere at barbecues is the most important, versus the location, and as long as your team has a great buffet, tables to eat at, and fun entertainment, they will be happy and appreciate the time together as a team.
Hosting a Company Barbecue – “Why and ROI”
Now that you have decided on when and where you would like to host your company barbecue, you will need to take this to the decision makers. As with any business decision, most companies will want to know what the benefits of hosting a company barbecue will include. We have compiled a list of a few of the major reasons every company should host a barbecue, but feel free to add your own reason to your “pitch” to your decision makers.
1.Encourage cross-departmental contact.
From our experience, as “catering staff” attending the grill or the desserts station, we hear all kinds of conversations, as well as many introductions. One of the most memorable conversations, over a double fudge brownie, was the new CFO of the company talking to one of the facility maintenance workers who had been with the company for 20 years. They discovered that their spouses went to high school together. These connections are made regardless of rank, role, departments, and positions at barbecues all the time. Ideas are shared, common respect is earned, and the company bonds that are formed may even save your company much more money than was paid for the barbecue.
2. Foster communication and bridge internal gaps.
When your employees communicate well, your company wins. Company success may start as an idea or introduction at the barbecue and end up as a positive comment in the board room. Again, putting a face to a voice on the phone helps allow for the “gap” to be narrower, and ideas to flow more easily back and forth between departments. As we all know, this level of teamwork is invaluable to any company.
3. Increase morale and lift employees’ spirit.
This is the one point most people associate with company picnics and celebrations in general. This much needed break, and valuable time to connect on a social level, can really help increase employee morale. Also, the relaxed, fun, and exciting picnic atmosphere does good things for one’s soul.
4. Appreciation and recognition.
When you gather your team, feed them well, and have the opportunity to thank them, you can guarantee that this praise will be remembered. You are not just telling them that you appreciate them, but you are also showing them that they are worth the expense. Your staff will know that this is an expense to the company. They also know that many companies have eliminated barbecues and celebrations to cut costs. Your team knows this and will truly appreciate the company taking on this expense.
5. Learn about the company and the team.
At your barbecue, when your entire team is gathered in one place, you have a chance to inform your team of the company’s direction and goals for the upcoming year. Then you can ask them about their goals, both personally and professionally. Learn about your team in an environment that is relaxed and stimulates sharing of ideas and dreams. Plan activities where your team learns about other team members, including what they do on a daily basis at work and what they do outside of work. These connections will go a long way for both the team and management. You might even discover a few friendships develop, as well as an increased level of trust between co-workers and management.
6. Learn to have fun together!
All work and no play makes work a dull place. Plan for fun, offer fun activities, and don’t be afraid to ask your team what they would think is “fun”. We are taught to listen to the “customer’s voice”, so why not ask your team for idea? That collaboration can start the fun and collaboration even before the barbecue happens.
If you have any ideas for fun and collaborative barbecue ideas, let us know so that we can use them in our next blog or article. Let’s fire up the grills and get our team together this Summer!