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Dina Green

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Death of the summer party?

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This article was written by Dina Green, MD of inVNT UK.

The summer party, once an established event in all office diaries, has become something of a rarity. It used to be the essential six month breather; celebrating the successes of spring while preparing for the autumn and winter. But with the financial crisis it became the first casualty as companies looked to cut costs and keep only the very essentials of a business going. Luckily for employees, the majority of businesses thought that the Christmas party was essential, otherwise staff would have precious little to look forward to during these harsher times. But was cutting this ‘knees-up’ the right move? In the first year of the recession, a good number of businesses opted out of hosting a Christmas party, but it was quick to return. Staff clearly enjoy and look forward to an annual get-together, so the lack of summer parties is something amiss in the business world.

Let’s take a look at what the summer party brought to the table. Internal events allow staff a much needed chance to relax with the people that they spend the vast majority of their time with. Workforce relations are critical to any successful business, as all managers should know. Staff need to all be pulling in the right direction, agreeing or constructively discussing with each other to promote efficient and quality work. In essence, people need to have strong relationships in order to work well together. At a time of year when the sun is (meant to be) shining, spirits are high and holidays are just round the corner, organising a party takes advantage of this good will for the benefit of the employees and the company as a whole.

Such spirit is sometimes like gold dust in the current economic mire that we find ourselves in. When morale is low, it can be very tricky to inspire a workforce downbeat due to increased bills, dwindling disposable income and potential redundancy. Yet hosting an event that can boost spirits affords a company a chance to convey a strategy and company direction for the second half of the year. What would normally be discussed in a company meeting at the end of the week (when minds are more likely on weekend plans than business plans) can be communicated in a far more effective and engaging manner when transplanted to, for example, a garden party. Equally, the message is likely to be taken on board by a wider number of staff and with more positivity.

If there have been redundancies, a tactic like this can help to drive confidence in remaining staff. While logic can dictate that there simply aren’t the funds available for a staff event if redundancies are taking place, consider the boost that this will give to remaining employees, knowing that they have been chosen as trusted members of a team who have been tasked with driving the business forward. As the speedy return of the Christmas party proved after the first year of the recession, employers realised the benefits of inspiring such confidence in a workforce. Without it, staff disaffection can quickly spread, and the cost of hiring and training staff to fill any holes left by those moving out can quickly spiral. So it may well be worth considering the return of the summer party in order to bring an added boost to business output and reduce the costs of staff turnover, costs that can be far greater than one get-together.

And those costs don’t have to be high. Summer parties can be far cheaper than their winter cousin, with any green space providing a perfect area for an assorted mix of picnics, ball games and team building exercises. Some companies took it further, using the day to chip in with local community projects with a celebration at the end – team building with an impact far wider than that of the everyday operations of a business.

Creating team harmony through such activity is crucial for any business wanting to succeed during challenging times. It can create internal brand advocates for your business, essential for any company looking to have a strong reputation in its industry, especially in the age of word-of-mouth and social media marketing. So where best to start creating them than from within your work force when they are at their best?

The summer party provides the perfect chance to build on an upbeat time of year by renewing interest and engagement in the business. In helping to build brand allegiance and align the whole organisation around core messaging, a summer party can prepare staff to attack the second half of the year and create something to celebrate come Christmas.

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