Vincy Workplace
June 25, 2004

Company Outings: Party or Business?

The company outing was held poolside one year, and employees were encouraged to bring swimming attire. A young man who was new to the company donned his brightly coloured Speedo swimsuit and proceeded to climb to the diving platform and do a cannonball dive, splashing almost everyone sitting around the pool. {{more}} Everyone was stunned; first from the sight of a co-worker in a Speedo, which is a very skimpy suit, and then from the unexpected soaking from his jump into the pool. This event made for rich water-cooler discussion at the office for quite some time after.
Companies often host outings for a little fun and relaxation and to show appreciation to their employees. Even though these are informal settings, proper business behaviour is still expected because people are technically still on the job at the event. Here are some guidelines:
1. Dress to impress. The rule of dressing conservatively still applies. Avoid short shorts, clothing with inappropriate or tasteless slogans, or revealing tops for women. Swimwear should be conservative; you want co-workers to remember your professional character after the outing, not an unforgettable image of you in revealing swimwear or picnic attire.
2. If alcohol is served, stop after one or two drinks. Choose beer or wine and pass on the hard liquor.
3. Think about your conversation topics and stay clear of the temptation to gossip. There’s a tendency to be a bit loose with the tongue in informal settings. Keep in mind that you are still being observed and evaluated unofficially.
4. If you work for a large company, take the opportunity to meet new people and strengthen old connections; avoid staying with familiar groups or social cliques all day. The wider your network, the better your chances are for advancement and recognition within the organization.
5. If the outing is at a golf course and you are not a golfer, be adventurous and take a few lessons before the event or consider taking a lesson that day. If these options are not feasible, use the time to network with other non-golfers in the clubhouse. Do not take a book and read all day or isolate yourself in some other way.
6. If games are being played and you are physically able, try to participate as much as you can.
7. Be gracious at the buffet line. Take moderate portions, don’t cut the line, and go back for seconds only after everyone has had the opportunity to go through the line.
Your ideas for articles are welcomed. Send comments and suggestions to Karen Hinds is an international author, speaker and consultant and president of Karen Hinds Seminars.