Sure, it’s easy to get people together for a holiday party, but generating that same type of excitement after New Year’s Eve is difficult. This is when you earn your stripes as an effective leader – it’s up to you to keep the office camaraderie at peak levels and plan some fun events for your employees!
Since an open and collaborative team environment is hugely important for small businesses, bringing people together outside of the office is a necessity. Once the holidays are over, you need to be a little more creative in how you do this, so here are some tips to get your employees back into the spirit(s).
Splurge on Spirits
“We haven’t had that spirit since 1969,” Don Henley famously sang in The Eagles “Hotel California.” Spirit is a double-entendre of sorts in this song, and a relevant one for our purposes. You want employees to be in good spirits while consuming a spirit out at a bar. And, the best way to get people out for a drink, and subsequently in good spirits, is to buy the first round or two. Don’t go over the top and ruin your personal expenses, but employees will surely appreciate a free drink! Though it may not seem like much, it will go a long way, especially after a grueling day.
Buying the first couple of drinks will show employees that you appreciate their hard work, and perhaps more importantly, that you value their happiness and company. You’d be surprised to know how much people talk about this type of gesture the next day, as employees will often tell those who didn’t attend the outing about your generosity.
This approach will also make the party worthwhile for those who may be on the fence. You’re not trying to bribe people to come, but a little incentive never hurt anyone – it’s a business after all!
Take a Chance
Try to make a post-work gathering a unique event! Sure, going to the bar around the corner from your office is convenient, and definitely a good idea for a couple outings, but switch it up once in a while. If there is a unique spot with live music, a bar with bowling or games, or an outdoor venue (depending on the weather), take the team to one of these spots. Also, cater the event to your employees! If you hear someone is into a certain type of music, or you think someone would be good at trivia, suggest an activity in line with their skills and interests.
If your employees aren’t from the area, show them some of the best local establishments. If you lead, they will follow. Or, if you don’t have time to organize everything, or you just aren’t the one to get the party started, find someone to take the reins. Delegate some responsibility – those who are social enjoy this type of role and will appreciate being acknowledged as a people person.
Regardless of who takes charge, make sure that everyone is involved. If you have an employee who keeps to themselves, try to get them talking. Make it your mission for the night to get the shy employees engaged in the conversation.
Maybe it’s the Wrong People!
Speaking of shy staff members, use an employee outing as a way of assessing your staff. If no one has any interest in going out for a drink, then you may have a problem with the composition of your team! Now, there are obvious exceptions – a team of coders may not be the most social bunch – but you should have at least a couple employees who like to be social. If you have a bunch of introverts on staff, you’re not going to be successful!
At the same time, you don’t want everyone in your company to be the type of person who orders shots for the entire bar. You need to have a balance in business, and your staff should reflect this parity. Get a good mix of people – the challenging part is to get this mix of people to work together as one!
If people enjoy their coworkers, they will look forward to coming into the office. This type of camaraderie will also boost retention and improve hiring – people are more likely to take a job if they see that potential coworkers are happy!
Your job as a leader is to keep people happy, and you should have outings at least every other month. After these outings, you need to be cognizant of the slight sacrifice that may come as a result of an office party: productivity may dip a TINY amount the following morning. If you go out on a Thursday, Friday morning may be tough for everyone. But, just bring in some coffee, talk about the funniest parts of the night, and then get the office back into productivity mode, albeit slowly.
Bob Adams is a serial entrepreneur and founder of BusinessTown.com.