Bringing BACK the Company Picnic!

~shared by Rory O’Fee

Team retreats, offsite corporate meetings, regional sales gatherings, etc… are often a great way to bring your working team together. We host a lot of diverse companies from varying industries all year long and find those teams leave feeling more connected, solved problems, improved communication, and ultimately
have come closer together. Warning: shameless plug ahead – please feel free to visit to learn about how great Woodloch could be for your team retreat.

Remember back in the day when dad’s company would host “The Annual Company Picnic?” It was one of the best days of the year. The bosses would circle that one summer Saturday where every employee – top to bottom – would be invited to come out with their immediate family and be recognized by the company.
I remember when I was a little kid when my dad worked for Grumman inspecting cockpits on F-14 Tomcats out in Calverton Long Island, company picnic day was one of my favorites.

Naturally as a little boy I idolized what my dad did, he was part of the team constructing the most powerful, bad@** military machine in the skies. On this one special day I got hang out with him and his coworkers at the plant. They would even pull some of the big planes out of the hangars and we little ones got to hop on to a few of them.

The guys were excited. They’d finally unveil the enormous barbecue grills they’d spent the last month constructing out of leftover scrap metal from E-2C Hawkeyes, the dozen or so bocce and horseshoe pits they’d dredged, and the industrial storage bins filled with water balloons.

The day was a blast; there was music blaring, whole families were engaged in hokie group events like potato-sack races, egg tosses. The air was filled with the tangy aroma of charcoal and hickory accented by the searing of what had to be a million hot dogs – and everyone was there.

For me, yeah, the planes were super cool, and hanging around dad and his work buddies was fun, but there was something very positive behind the scenes that was taking place at every other company picnic across America.

So what happened? Where have the company picnics of yesteryear gone today? Unfortunately whenever there is market turbulence employee perks are sensibly the first thing to get cut. When you don’t have the excess cash to do it, you just can’t do it. With that being said, this decision really shouldn’t be made that lightly in any boardroom.

The good ol’ company picnic’s benefits, while intangible and without a direct ROI, can be massive and really strengthen a company. Employees felt a little bit more rewarded, the employee’s family felt included, the little ones became mini ambassadors for the cool company mom or dad worked for, people let loose a little and connected with one another, ultimately helping to foster company loyalty and a stronger team.

Sounds like a whole heck of a lot of upside, and it seems like the company picnic is having a resurgence. Unfortunately, in many cases, it has been relegated to memories and polaroids. Some companies still keep the tradition alive. Even a simple outing with hamburgers and corn on the cob in a park can go a long way for staff morale. Other companies are taking a different approach and are successfully bringing back the company picnic in a great way.

Destination company outings are growing in popularity in the business world. As company values shift toward work-life harmony, rather than a work-life balance, take Jeff Bezos “I think work-life harmony is a good framework. I prefer the word ‘harmony’ to the word ‘balance’ because balance tends to imply a strict tradeoff*.” People want to work, but also want to be committed and engaged with their families and executives across industries are seeing the importance of this and taking action.

Destination company outings involve to whole family and usually a weekend’s worth of activity and entertainment. WAC Lighting out of Port Washington, NY, took a weekend away to Woodloch Resort and rewarded their staff. This is an annual event the company enjoys and they’ve been hosting it for years. They feel
the event really brings the team closer together, helps forge a deeper sense of community and weaves the family and work life together in harmony.

WAC Lighting put together a unique agenda with the Woodloch team that was developed to allow everyone to let loose as well as foster communication and friendships. The weekend culminated in a full-blown block party where a Woodloch vacation rental cul-de-sac was outfitted with a band in one garage, party games in another, a grand barbecue and even a casino set up in the others.

Beyond the block party, the attendees were free to enjoy all that Woodloch has to offer, as a group, or on their own. Ultimately the employees felt rewarded and appreciated, not to mention they got to have a ton of fun, because that’s what it’s really all about in the end. Return to work on Monday morning brought energy, ideas, improved communication,and maybe even a deeper sense of loyalty.

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