We’ve all been to lifeless work events. You know the ones—big on the conference ballrooms, sparse on the hors d’oeuvres. It’s easy to see why some events flop. What’s more difficult is figuring out how to throw an off-duty soirée that’s a hit.
The key is to think more about the people attending the event than the event itself. So whether you want to send your boss some ideas to spice up your team’s monthly happy hour or are tasked with thinking outside of the box for your next company outing, here are some ideas for events everyone wants to attend.
1. Inspiration Staycations
After spending day after day in the same cube, many 9-to-5ers crave new and unexpected experiences. But you don’t have to host a tropical retreat to get out of the normal routine!
Molly Trucano, Manager of Employee Engagement and Internal Marketing at true[X], plans events a few times a month for the company’s office in the Los Angeles area.
She recently planned a trip to a local museum. Heading somewhere completely out of their industry offered a nice change of pace.
“We were able to get outside of our wheelhouse and go into the Getty Museum which has amazing architecture and a beautiful view of Los Angeles,” Molly says.
If you’re looking for a more formal (but still fun) tour, look into MuseumHack’s renegade museum tours and team-building activities. The idea is simple: Take people on a fast-paced tour of only the art that excites the guide.
Still stumped for ideas? If you live near a stadium, pick a night to go watch a game. Or take advantage of your local landscape during a weekday, Molly suggests. Think: going to the beach or taking to the mountains for a hike.
2. Talent Spotlights
Another tactic for making a work event a hit is to give people free rein to do things they care about.
true[X] holds biannual hack days, where engineers work on things outside of the norm. On these days anything goes. In the past people have come up with fun Slack integrations and even a Travel Dictionary.
“You know when you get back from a trip and there’s someone in the office who wants a recommendation? This is a crowd-sourced database of travel recommendations so that you can keyword search a destination like “Thailand” and get all of the recommendations,” Molly explains.
3. In-Office Events
In-office events can get a bad rap, especially when compared with fun outings like cheering on a local sports team or hitting the beach. But depending on your employee demographic, it may be hard for people to take the time away from families or children at home.
Holding events at the office encourages everyone to attend. Molly plans monthly in-office events on the first Thursday of the month, with different themes each month. Think costume contests and mini-carnivals; holiday celebrations and bounce houses. (Bonus points if families are invited to attend your in-office events!)
Other ideas could include in-office yoga or fitness, cooking classes, or team lunches. Or try to survey your employees to see what they would be most likely to participate in.
The takeaway here is that seriously fun, entirely memorable corporate events don’t have to feel corporate. In fact, the more personal they feel, the better. So encourage employees to bring in their significant others or little ones for the events that are family-friendly, which will only add to the personal feeling and help bring everyone together.
“The philosophy that I’ve always tried to abide by is the more you know somebody outside of their desk, the more you’re going to feel like a community member with them, the more you’re going to feel like you want to get something done with them and work better as a team when you get back to your desk,” Molly says.