Team Building: Hosting an Employee Appreciation Event - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Team Building: Hosting an Employee Appreciation Event

Photo: McHale Landscape Design, Inc.

 If you’re wanting to pull out all the stops when it comes to letting your employees know you appreciate their efforts at your lawn or landscape company, hosting a specific employee appreciation event is one option.

The concept you have in mind might be simple, but make sure you’re thinking through all the logistics to ensure your team has a good time and understands you’re celebrating all their achievements.  

Types of Activities

When trying to determine the nature of the gathering, you need to think through if this appreciation event will become an annual occurrence held around the same time, if it will move around over the years or is a one-time thing for hitting a specific milestone.

The simpler the event, the easier it will be to replicate yearly, which is why casual events like staff barbecues or family fun days are a good option. These can be hosted on-site or at a nearby park, and the food can be cooked by your leadership team rather than being catered.

If you want a more active event that helps foster team building, you can host the gathering at a more interactive venue like an adventure park where employees can compete in fun contests like tug of war.

On the more formal end of the spectrum, you can host an appreciation banquet that includes a plated dinner or buffet. This type of event can highlight individual employees’ and teams’ efforts over the year. It can also include team members’ spouses and serve as a special way to celebrate your team’s achievements.

If you are located in a region that is home to local minor or major league teams, you can take advantage of these venues to treat your team to attend a sporting event together. Due to scheduling, these types of events are a better reward for reaching or exceeding goals.

Planning the Logistics

The logistics will greatly influence what type of event you can host and the first thing you have to determine is your budget.

An employee appreciation event doesn’t have to cost thousands to be successful. If you decide to make it a recurring event, setting a budget at the beginning of the year can help ensure your party has the necessary funds.

Photo: Green Lawn Fertilizing

One aspect that can impact how far you can stretch your budget is whether it will be hosted at your company headquarters or off-site. Consider whether the off-site venue is accessible to all employees and the transportation options.

Food is another major consideration. Some common options are to buy and cook the food yourself, have a company-wide potluck, schedule food trucks to attend, or cater the event. Each option has its own set of pros and cons, which you’ll need to discuss with your team.   

When selecting the date and time of your employee appreciation event, think about a time of year when things are winding down or calmer for crews. Also, select a time when you can get maximum participation. Poll staff to find out if they have a preference between some options. If the majority of your staff have conflicts due to other obligations, ending the work day early is another way to increase attendance.

Another consideration is whether the event is just for staff or if their family members are invited. Often, family events are the most appreciated as they allow employees to connect on a new level with team members and leadership by introducing their families.

Pitfalls to Avoid

As you start planning this event, make sure you have gathered a diverse group of employees to serve as a committee. They can look at the event and its offerings through different lens’ and point out oversights or if there is a lack of inclusivity.

Once your team has pinned down the crucial details such as when and where this will take place, send out invitations well in advance and use multiple communication channels to ensure awareness. Request RSVPs so you can plan accordingly.

While you want your employees to RSVP, you do need to be flexible and prepare for more attendees than those who have confirmed. The last thing you want to do is to run out of food or not have enough seating for the team you are celebrating.

Poor planning can cause an event meant to express appreciation to leave a sour taste in employees’ mouths. Throughout planning and execution, keep in mind that this event is an outpouring of gratitude you feel for your team.

After the event, make sure you seek feedback from your team about what they liked and what could be improved. Listen to these suggestions and strive to implement them, as this will help them continue to be better attended.

For instance, if respondents comment about working outside all day and not wanting the event to take place outside, you can look into air-conditioned venues for next year so they are more comfortable.

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.