I know of a business that held their annual picnic in the heat of summer, using it as a company retreat every year. Consistently, 14 out of 24 employees would attend, with the rest having various reasons for their absence; most citing it was too hot to be outdoors in July. When it came time to reorganize the business due to budget restraints a few years ago, only 16 out of 24 employees were retained based on their “expertise” (I surmise it also had something to do with their “commitment” to the company). It’s curious that all the employees kept on were those that engaged in team building experiences throughout the year. So…before you say “no” to your company picnic this summer, read on:
Do RSVP quickly. Unless you already have an important prior commitment, there is no good reason to skip the company picnic. Waiting until the last minute to see who else is going, shows you are sitting on the fence. Make it a point to be the first, second or third person to accept the invitation. You will find that others will soon follow suit.
Don’t sign up for the bare minimum. While you may not be a cook, or have a large budget, find something to bring that appears as if you aren’t just “getting by” with the smallest possible donation. If you bring paper towels, add a box of sanitizing wipes, or if you offer to bring plastic cups, add a case of water. You will appear more interested if you look as though you are happy to get involved.
Do plan to stay through the meal. Arrive on time, with your favorite pot luck dish in tow, and don’t think about leaving until dessert has been served. Mix and mingle with co-workers you don’t see as often in the office.
Don’t avoid your boss. If you work closely with your supervisor, but seldom see the owner of the company, use this opportunity to make a positive impression. Say hello, make a few minutes of small talk, and let them move on to enjoy their time with the entire staff. Stay away from complaints or concerns you have about how the office is currently being run.
Do offer to help. The planning committee always welcomes extra hands. Ask if you can assist in setting up the tables, putting out folding chairs, getting the grill ready or breaking things down when the picnic is over. Investing the extra time will not go unrecognized by your co-workers or superiors.
Don’t talk shop. A company social event is an opportunity for coworkers and supervisors to see you in a different environment. You can tell a great deal about a person by the way they behave in public, play games and interact with others. If you win the hula hoop contest, be a gracious winner – if you lose, show good sportsmanship.
Do dress appropriately. It may be hot outside, but skimpy tanks and short shorts are reserved for your personal time. Regardless of the social venue, you are still an employee representing your company. Use good judgment when picking out your picnic attire.
Don’t assume your entire family is invited. Before loading up your whole crew, double check with the host to see if family members will be included. Often times, when an office gathering is scheduled for the middle of the work day, it is meant for staff only. On the weekend or a Friday afternoon, family members are usually welcome, but the golden rule is to “Assume Nothing”.
Do watch how much you drink. Whether there are a few dozen bottles of beer, or an entire keg, watch your alcohol intake at the company picnic. It’s never okay to let your hair down so much you can’t remember if you won or lost the egg toss contest. If, however, you overindulge, use good judgment and have someone else drive you home.
Don’t sit out of the games. Those that display an investment in the team are traditionally valued over those with a negative attitude. You may not be a fan of the water balloon toss, but do your best to show you are engaged and having a good time. Sitting on the sidelines while everyone else gets drenched sets you apart – in the wrong way. Jump in, get wet and have fun.