28 April 2022

How to plan a great away day for summer 2022

As we move to the end of April, that summer feeling becomes more tangible each and every time the sun pops its head out from behind the clouds. While you might already have your summer holiday booked in, bought some festival tickets, and have a little staycation planned. Have you given any thought to your team’s summer away day?

Whether you call it your work beano, office outing or summer party. These little work treats are a great way to boost morale, help colleagues bond and say a big thank you for all the hard work your team puts in, day in and day out. So, what do you need to think about when planning a team away day that will keep everyone happy? Here are some things to consider.

Timing is everything

Picking the right time and date is the most important thing when planning a summer party, picking a contentious time when a lot of people won’t be able to make it could be damaging to morale.

Start by looking at your holiday rota and shortlist dates when the least employees are away. Be conscious of things such as school holidays, religious dates, and big events such as music festivals and sporting events that people may not have booked off yet.

As a general rule picking midweek dates, in term time, will often be your best bet. But this comes at a cost (literally) as many venues, activity providers and events, are aware of this and may be charging a premium for this.

If you’re looking at an online booking form and find a certain date is cheaper than others, ask yourself why first. There’s a good chance the provider is banking on being quiet on that day due to something else happening, so do your research!

Don’t just rely on alcohol

In the eyes of many bosses, the best thing they can do to say thank you to their team is to take them all to a pub and put the company card behind the bar. But the problem with this is, that it’s not very inclusive.

Some of your team may not drink for various religious, personal or medical reasons and they may feel left out, or even avoid attending your event if they think it’s just going to be an ode to Bacchus.

While a lot of your team will appreciate free booze, ensure that there are things happening to keep the people who choose not to drink entertained. Hikes, workshops, school-style sports days and activity days are always popular choices.

Remember, just because a work party might finish in the pub, it doesn’t always have to start in one! That way people who don’t drink can leave earlier when they’ve had their fill of the fun.

Plan for sun… but have a contingency plan

British summers are famously unreliable — 2020 was a scorcher that was dampened by the fact we were living under lockdown, while 2021 was a washout. This can make planning an activity particularly difficult, especially if most of your team spend their working lives indoors.

The trouble is if you book an indoor activity on a sunny day, your workers who are usually cooped up in the office may resent having to spend more time inside! Therefore it’s often a good idea to save these kinds of events for autumn/winter parties. Conversely, if you plan to play boules in the park, or any other sunny activity, your employees may not be so thrilled about getting the opportunity to be outside if a downpour ensues.

A happy compromise is to either plan an event that combines being inside and outside — for example, you could take your employees to a traditional British beachside resort, that way they can enjoy the beach if the sun shines. If there’s a downpour, they can instead make the most of the area’s promenade and amusements.

Another option is to pick an outdoor activity such as paintball, or quad biking where rain is not such an issue as guests are provided with protective gear that will keep out the elements.

Sort out the transport

How are you getting your team to and home from your event? Sorting the logistics of the event is really important as if you expect all employees to find their own way there and back you may limit the number of people who can attend, which reduces the inclusivity of the event.

If you are planning an event with alcohol, or one that will carry on until late into the night then sorting a way for your team to get home safely is particularly important.

Shoulder the costs

Finally, whatever your budget is for the event stick to it and allow everyone to attend and enjoy the day gratis. Lots of team leaders and employers argue, that by asking employees to contribute to the cost of the party or to buy tickets to attend it they are able to organise grander and more exciting thankyou days.

However, the problem with doing so is this makes events more exclusive, especially if it is a party planned for employees on a wide range of different pay grades.

Of course, if this is just a general activity planned for your co-workers then there’s no harm in expecting them to contribute money to attend nor is it problematic if it is just for a small part of your team (e.g. a day to reward salespeople who reached targets) but if this is your annual summer bash designed to say thank you to everyone for their hard work, then you shouldn’t expect them to pay for it.

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