Friend-Building with the "Vacation Filter"
Think about your next company party like your last vacation.
You want to throw a great party and make sure everyone has fun? Don't we all...
After running company events for many years, we have noticed a few trends:
1) Many times companies wait too long to get a party on the calendar, and are rushing to put things together in a couple of weeks. Sometimes this is fine if you want to celebrate a surprise big deal or achievement. But you kind of know that you are going to do a Summer Party well in advance.
2) The people who could benefit the most from interactions at the party, are either racing around sweating small tasks to make the party happen (veggie burgers and buying ice!) or don't show up for longer than a few minutes at all (we are looking at you CEO's).
3) Once people have a few drinks, and say they had a good time, the work of the party feels done. There is little follow up, or follow through, and little "Memorialization" of the party, which can keep the party alive for 3 months instead of 3 hours.
An idea you can think about is using the "Vacation Filter" that our hero Shawn Achor talks about often. Really every vacation has at least 3 parts:
1) The Plan and Date on the Calendar
2) The actual fun of the "vaca" (drinks by the pool?)
3) The Memorialization (Pictures/ Videos / Gifts)
All 3 of these ideas work together to make vacations fun, memorable, and hopefully rewarding.
Take this same vacation filter and apply it to your next company party.
First get the date on the calendar early. Science says having a date on the company calendar, actually is good for fun and for the brain. Give your employees something to anticipate and look forward to.
Next, get some dang help! Just because you are in HR doesn't mean you should have to run the party every time. Don't you want to actually enjoy the party instead of sweating over which booze to buy or if you have enough hamburger buns? More importantly, the small interactions and conversations that HR or execs should be having at the company party DON'T occur when people are focused on running the party and managing all the logistics and vendors (why is that DJ late again?!)
Perhaps most important: help the party live on! Simple ideas like recap videos, pictures, and custom trophies and T-shirts will keep showing up in the office long after the party is over, and provide a magnet for people who missed out to show up to the next event.
Having great pictures of the team on the walls of your office will impact every new vendor and customer that comes through.
Heck, that custom T-Shirt or Sweatshirt you thought you didn't need might actually be doing recruiting for you around town, as a happy employee wears it out to a BBQ or a local restaurant.
Employees who have fun at a well-planned party, who feel like they connected with new people and the execs, and have memories to keep the party alive, might end up being the "hidden recruiting team" that you need to find the next great hire.
Think about the vacation filter next time you talk about the company party, and don't forget Memorialization ideas that can help the party live on well after the event date.