Keeping your team happy is essential. And it’s not just another trick to boost productivity: this is about creating a positive, energising atmosphere in the workplace. This is about you and your team’s professional and personal well-being and about striking that perfect work-life balance that you read about in self-help books and blog posts. How do you do it? Sitting down and getting to know each other over a shared meal is an excellent start. That’s why you should treat the company dinner as something more than a mere business affair. It is an exercise in communication and trust-building and, most of all, it engages you and your colleagues in the most important activity a group of human beings can undertake: making memories together. How do you make the magic happen? How do you turn your company dinner into an powerful human experience? We at Smart Eventi have been organising company dinners for over a decade and have a few Smart tips to share!
1. Pick the right venue. No, not that one.
If you want your company dinner to be a team-bonding experience, don’t pick the kind of cold, impersonal and super-efficient restaurants in which corporate events usually take place. Pick the kind of restaurant you would choose for a date or a catch up with a friend. If you are organising your company dinner as part of a business trip abroad, bank on the shared camaraderie of travelling together and go hunting for hidden gems in the corners of town where the locals hang out. Avoid the Michelin-starred establishments that feature on most corporate events websites and look for recommendations from students, artists or families.
2. Smaller is better
This rule applies both to your group and to the restaurant you choose. Your group needs to be relatively small for your company dinner to generate the kind of intimacy and close exchange of human experience that we are aiming for. A long table the opposite ends of which can’t communicate or – worse – a group divided into different tables will never bond properly. Where the restaurant is concerned, smaller is better in terms of service quality and, often, the atmosphere. If the venue you choose is not accustomed to hosting business dinners, they will probably be delighted to create something unique and special for your group. You will be able to communicate directly with the owner or manager and get better and quicker service and more personal assistance. Moreover, this kind of restaurant usually has more personality and a friendlier atmosphere than anything you may find in any city’s business district.
3. Special gifts and local delicacies: what your colleagues don’t expect from a company dinner
Surprise your colleagues with a small gift at the end of the evening. Ideally, a small sample of a local delicacy, something that they won’t be able to buy back home and that will remind them of the special moment you all shared. Many restaurants in Italy, particularly in the countryside and in the smaller towns and villages, are connected to farms, wineries, dairy farms, and other food manufacturers. Book in advance and ask the owner to help you craft a unique gift for your team members. A special bottle of wine, maybe labelled with your name and the date of your company dinner, or a similarly packaged bottle of olive oil, a cut of home-made cheese or a jar of home-made honey. Depending on where you are, you will have plenty of delicious options to choose from. The only rule of thumb you should always follow is: make it unique, make it memorable.