Beat Employee Burnout By Sponsoring A Company Outing

According to an Adecco USA survey of 1,068 employees, 215 said the recession is causing them mental health problems; 359 reported an increase in their on-the-job stress. Of the more than 4,400 workers surveyed by who have survived a layoff, 30% tagged themselves as burned out.


At a time when workplace stress is at an all-time high, a fun company outing may be just what the doctor ordered. Such outings don’t have to break the company bank to beat burnout and boost morale — a picnic at a local park, a round of mini-golf at a nearby course, or a trip to a local museum, for example.


To ensure the event goes off without a hitch:

  • Specify who is invited. Is it employees only? Or are they allowed to bring a guest, two guests, or unlimited guests?

  • Communicate to employees that they and their guests are expected to abide by the company’s conduct policies.

  • Select a location/activity that is a reasonable distance from the worksite.

  • Select an activity most employees will enjoy and can participate in.

  • Plan and structure the day. Giving employees time to get bored is only asking for trouble.

  • Ensure that food is properly refrigerated and thoroughly cooked.

  • Make the event alcohol-free.

  • Have a first-aid kit on hand.

Reduce Potential Liability For Injuries

No matter what activity you choose, no workplace outing is without liability. But that doesn’t mean you should forgo the outing. While you can’t entirely eliminate the risk of liability if an injury should occur, you can reduce the likelihood that a court will rule that the injury occurred within the course and scope of employment, a necessary element in most states’ Workers’ Comp laws.

  • Put the focus of the event on employees enjoying themselves, and not on furthering business goals. In other words, don’t “talk shop.” If the outing is perceived to be primarily for the company’s benefit, it’s more likely that injuries will be compensable under Workers’ Comp.

  • Keep attendance voluntary.

  • Avoid over-publicizing the event. A memo or e-mail announcing the event and its basic details is okay; daily reminders are not. That’s because constant reminders may make some employees feel as though they have no choice but to attend, even though attendance is voluntary. The more pressure employees feel to attend, the more likely Workers’ Comp will kick in should they suffer an injury.

  • Hold the event off-site and during non-work hours.

  • Let employees take the lead in organizing activities. Encourage them to bring their own equipment to enjoy the facilities (bats, softballs, tennis rackets, basketballs, etc.). Important: Make participation in these activities strictly voluntary. For instance, if the majority wants to get a game of softball going, don’t go around telling all employees they will play this position or that one; ask for volunteers.

Record Off-Site Injuries

A Letter of Interpretation from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reminds employers that injuries sustained during “fun” events may be considered work-related and need to be recorded on OSHA logs. Even if employees aren’t required to participate, and, in fact, did not participate, a resulting injury may need to be recorded.

Tough Talks D


The situation before OSHA: Employees were required to attend an off-site team-building meeting and lunch. They were then free to choose to either: 1) participate in go-cart racing; 2) return to the office to finish the workday; or 3) take a half-day vacation.


OSHA declared that injuries sustained during the go-cart racing were work-related; thus, if an injury meets other general recordability criteria, it must be recorded on OSHA logs. Reason: Employees were required to be at the go-cart facility as a condition of employment, making the facility the employees’ work environment.


It doesn’t make a difference whether the employee chooses to stay for the go-cart racing and is not required to participate, and is injured while watching the races.


OSHA: The work environment is defined as “the establishment and other locations where one or more employees are working or are present as a condition of their employment. The work environment includes not only physical locations, but also the equipment or materials used by the employee during the course of his or her work.”