There are those who might argue that business is too tough these days to mess with client or employee events, that those costs are a throwback to the fifties and sixties when company bowling leagues and free turkeys at Thanksgiving were the norm. I say that they’re a good thing in today’s world, perhaps even more valuable than before. It’s never been harder to find and keep people, and one reason people will stay around is if they’re having fun together. It still matters.
It’s helpful to have a person or a group of people in your company invested enough to help, who know how to plan, put on a good party, and have a good time. It doesn’t have to be a manager. It can be anyone. Back in the day, it was often me. My first mentor threw me into planning company events, his only piece of advice being Never run out of food. And I never have.
For many years, I acted as Sales & Marketing Consultant for a Seattle business. They employed 11 people when I started working with them, and I think they’re up to 40 now, much of this growth having to do with acquiring other businesses. Here’s what I know from being around them: If you successfully do something once, you can do it every year. The first event is always the hardest, but after that, you have a growing body of institutional memory and only need to change the theme or the colors or the food. Or maybe not even that. Maybe it’s the same thing every year. Call it “traditional.” This is the same company that bought a wood-fired pizza oven for customer and employee events, has a freezer stocked with free ice cream treats in the summer, and who just bought a karaoke set-up for the annual Christmas party. And yes, we’re going. Building customer and employee loyalty through gestures like this has helped with their incredible success.
I mention this as the holidays approach because that’s often a time when companies have a party or a lunch, or at least weigh the ROI. Remember that it doesn’t have to be pricey. There’s nothing wrong with a potluck. Just don’t ever run out of food.