How to host the perfect summer social

Danni Rush, Chief Operating Officer at Virgin Experience Days and Virgin Incentives and Virgin Experience Gifts

The longest day of the year is now behind us but the summer party season still lies ahead. After a Christmas season in which many employers had to cancel their work parties, nailing the summer party planning will be crucial for HR professionals this year.

The summer party provides a great opportunity to make up for lost time due to the pandemic, helping to build morale, enhance relationships with the team and reward hard working employees.

But with so much riding on the summer party, how can HR teams ensure they take the pressure off and organise the perfect event?

Get employees involved

It can be difficult to keep on top of the changing interests and preferences of your employees – especially within a larger organisation. But securing their buy-in for a format is important to keeping workers on side and ensuring maximum enjoyment on the day.

Employee feedback forms are a great way to understand where you went right and where you went wrong with previous work socials and provides an opportunity to improve on the format of the next one. Additionally, asking employees to participate is a great way to show that you value their opinion.

Alternatively, you could invite a selection of employees to contribute to the planning process as representatives of the organisation’s wider interests. This allows you to get crucial insights into your workforce’s idea of the perfect summer party, tailored to everyone’s interests.

Find a venue

A crucial first stepping stone to creating a great summer party is choosing the venue. In summer, a venue with both indoor and outdoor space is advised so the employees can enjoy the warm weather and make the most of the sunshine.

Another important aspect of the party is the location, ensuring the venue is convenient and well-connected so the majority of attendees can travel there easily and return home safely after. If it’s not possible, providing transport is a good compromise.

Consider flexible work hours

Businesses are advised to choose a weekday for their summer party plans rather than eat into employees’ weekend. However, this means there might be disruption during the week either side of the party – whether it’s allowing time for workers to get ready and travel to the venue beforehand or allowing time after the event for workers to recover. In both instances, businesses will be looked upon favourably if they can be flexible. This might mean an early finish the day of the party and a late start, a company-wide day off or a remote working day the following day.

After all, employers would be naïve to think that their workforce will be turning up to work bright eyed the following day. Productivity is likely to be low anyway, and some time off to recover is likely to garner more loyalty and lead to higher productivity in the following days and weeks in comparison.

Involve everyone

If it’s a company-wide social, that means all employees should be invited and if budget allows, you could also consider inviting their partners or a plus one.

But in the instance where certain employees can’t make the event itself for whatever reason, employers should be prepared with a contingency plan.

One option available to businesses is offering individual rewards. While some businesses may opt for financial rewards, sending out gift cards and vouchers to employees are a great way to demonstrate recognition of their work, or treat them to a new experience which they can enjoy with their loved ones.

In place of a summer party, gift cards and vouchers are not only a budget friendly alternative to financial rewards, but they will also strengthen the association of the reward with the employer upon redemption and will support a company’s culture by creating memories amongst a team.

Either way, businesses should make efforts to ensure their employees feel rewarded and connected to their employer, ensuring they don’t miss out on that summer party feeling.

But not only is the summer party season beneficial for employees, they are also an important way for businesses to create new memories and improve employee retention. This year’s summer party is a perfect opportunity to demonstrate appreciation and recognition for your teams – whatever your budget.

Author: Editorial Team

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