Now that summer has arrived, small businesses will invariably try to reward their employees with a company outing.

Having fun with colleagues at company outing
photo credit: talkrealfast / Flickr

They’re meant to be fun and they should be a way for the staff to get to know each other, build camaraderie and take a break from the stressful grind of work. But too often they’re fraught with anxiety, anxiousness and aggravation from employees.

Some people, for instance, don’t enjoy getting pelted at the annual paintball outing. Others have kids at home and can’t spend the whole night out on the town with their coworkers.

Before you schedule this year’s outing, make some rules that will lead to a rewarding event for your team that helps foster a better place to work moving forward.

Rule No. 1: Have a Purpose

Yes, you want to reward your employees with a fun outing, but you also want it to have meaning for your organization. Communicate with your team that the event is part of kicking off a new initiative or goal – it could be as simple as building excitement for the new quarter, working together as a team or celebrating a new product launch.

Rule No. 2: Get Input from Your Employees

Before you go scheduling a golf outing, find out if any of your employees play golf. Depending on the size of your company, you can feel people out individually or send out a quick survey. The last thing you want to do is spend money on an event no one wants to attend. You may not be able to please everyone, but your team will appreciate being included in the planning.

Rule No. 3: Keep it Nearby

People have long commutes and families to get home to. Don’t drag them hours out of their way for a company outing. Find something close to work or in the general vicinity of where most of your employees live.

Company outing activity
photo credit: Mr David Tomlinson / Flickr

Rule No. 4: Make it During Work Hours

We often spend more time with our colleagues than our loved ones. Adding even more time to that after work for what should be a reward could seem like the opposite to some. Play it safe and have your outing during normal business hours, if at all possible. You’ll likely end up with a more engaged and happy group.

Rule No. 5: Don’t Cost Your Employees Money

Baseball games are a popular option for these types of outings, but food and drink at stadiums can be expensive. Give your team some spending money so they don’t feel like you’re costing them, or find an activity that doesn’t require your employees to spend extra cash.

Bringing everyone at your business together for a day has a lot of bonuses. You’re letting your guard down a bit and showing a more human side; you’re saying thank you for the hard work; and giving everyone a chance to think outside the box.

Unless it backfires. Stick with these five rules and you won’t squash the goodwill.