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July 31, 2009

HR Fact Friday: Company Picnic . . . Reality or Myth

Filed under: General HR Buzz — Tags: , , , , 7:23 am

Here we are smack dab in the middle of summer. It’s a good time of year. Days are long so there is time in the evenings for outdoor activities, folks are taking or planning vacations, and your company picnic is today so you can look forward to not having to work this afternoon, making a fool of yourself in the sack relay race, sinking your boss with a well aimed throw in the dunk tank, and filling up on free food and drinks. Ah, good times. Or are they?

Here at HRN, the annual summer company picnic is a relatively new event. In the past we have historically put all our eggs in the Holiday dinner event. But a few years ago we branched out and now hold a summer family oriented employee appreciation event as well. They are pretty low key as far as corporate events go. We reserve a pavillion at a local park, have some food, drinks, and ice cream brought in, and hold a variety of fun, family oriented competitive contests. Oh and then there’s the grand finale . . . the prize raffle.

The event is a lot of fun and employees look forward to participating along with their family each year. But this is a rough year economically for many businesses which means all non-essential expenses must be controlled and considered. So, is the summer company picnic taking this year off as cash strapped businesses look for ways to tighten their belt?

According to an online SHRM poll (take the poll by going to: that is currently open and accepting votes:

  • 34% of respondents say YES, their company is holding a summer picnic/company event this year.
  • 14% say YES but event is being scaled back
  • 33% say NO, although we have had them in the past, and;
  • 20% say NO, and we have never had a summer picnic or company event

So the data submitted to date supports the assumption that companies are cancelling or scaling back on summer employee events.  Not surprising I suppose. In tough times employees would prefer a job and paycheck over a cold hot dog, a flat soda, or a twisted ankle rounding 3rd base. But if your company is hosting a summer event, attend, appreciate the gesture, get to know your coworkers and their family, and above all RELAX, don’t talk about work and ENJOY yourself.


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