When planning a company picnic, as in planning any special event, answer the questions “who, what, when, where?”

Who?

Company picnics are designed to be fun, outdoor events that allow company employees and their families to mix and mingle socially in a relaxed setting. From the company’s point of view the picnic is a service reward and, more importantly, a team building event. The picnic should be structured to encourage employees of all ages to attend with their families. For some age groups this will be more of a challenge than for others. Parents of teenage children will have a more difficult time persuading their children to come to a company picnic unless the parents can explain it to their teenagers that entertainment at the event will be cool and worth sharing. dinosaur egg toy

If the company has less than 45 employees, it will be difficult to stage a picnic. The typical attendance rate is 40% – 50%. This takes into account those who cannot attend due to competing family or social commitments, vacations, etc. If only 25 employees would attend a picnic, even with spouses it becomes difficult to stage games and develop a group dynamic.

Attendance at company picnics has fallen in recent years. For new Canadians a company picnic is unfamiliar and can be intimidating. For more settled employees the picnic may be same-old same-old and boring. Therefore, to be successful the picnic must be planned carefully and designed to appeal to different ages and backgrounds. Few employee social committees have the expertise to pull this off without outside help and a responsible budget.

If the company has more than one factory that normally has it’s own picnic, care must be taken when organizing a company wide event. A separate communication team should be in place to coordinate the news of the picnic to each plant and receive feed back. If a plant schedules it’s annual summer shutdown at the same time as the picnic, few employees from that location will attend. The shutdown has higher priority than the picnic so be prepared to reschedule the picnic.

Attendees at a company picnic can be broken down into three main groups based their level of physical activity. Invitations to the picnic must take into account the levels of activity that each group will enjoy so that the invitations can be crafted to appeal to each group.

a) The go-go group is between the age of 18 & 28 & will enjoy strenuous physical activity.

b) The slow-go group is both younger and older & will enjoy mid-level activity. (Young children fall into this category).

c) The no-go group is older still & will enjoy a relaxed day in the country.

It’s important that senior company executives and their families be present at the picnic. If the picnic is truly to be a team building effort, then all members of the team from the lowest ranking to the highest should be encouraged to be there. More importantly, they should be seen to be there. The president of the company should work the crowd during lunch hour, shake hands with employees, be introduced to their wives and children and smile constantly. Senior executives should play sports on a team, serve food on the buffet line, be dunked in the dunk tank, hand out prizes to winning competitors, and generally act like good hosts. If the company is unionized a shop steward could help cut the cake with the company president. It’s a great photo OP. (picnic pictures should appear in company newsletters, Christmas cards and notices to shareholders). These are important benefits when planning a company picnic.

What?

Entertainment, both active and passive, must appeal to the three levels of physical activity referred to before. The go-go group will enjoy volleyball, soccer, relay races, tug of war and other strenuous activity. The slow-go group will enjoy hiking, cycling, a scavenger hunt, miniature golf or a putting green and other mid-level activity.

Young children will enjoy 3 legged races, obstacle courses, blind mans bluff, pin the tail on a donkey, hitting a piƱata, mother daughter races, egg in a spoon races, dinosaur egg (watermelon) hunts, arts and crafts, face painting.

Balloon sculptures, inflatable bounce castles, petting zoos and pony rides are always popular.