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I have to organize an activity to encourage our team members to engage more in company activities. This is quite challenging for me because there are roughly 100 people with a wide age gap (20 - 50 years old).

How can I encourage people to attend this activity?

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    some people just don't want to do activities. I don't participate in company activities, and there is really nothing anyone could do to make me want to. That's just how it is. – SaggingRufus Sep 19 '17 at 14:41
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    can you be a bit more specific what kind of company-activities that might be? – Daniel Sep 19 '17 at 14:41
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    What was the average attendance rate at recent events? What were the demographics and could they be related to the type of event? What is your goal? You won't get all 100 .. – Fildor Sep 19 '17 at 14:45
  • Do these activities occur during working hours or outside of them? If the latter, are people expected to donate their time, or can they take other time off to compensate? Are the events professional or social? – Monica Cellio Sep 20 '17 at 2:42
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Oh dear, you really have been handed an unpleasant task there, you have my sympathies!

The first thing to realise is that you won't be able to please everyone, with such a large diverse group as you describe there really isn't going to be something that pleases everyone so you are going to have to aim for the something that will appeal to as many as possible. Some won't like the activity you prepare and some just plain won't like doing company activities (I know I fit into the latter category, I can't stand the things!).

Your question doesn't provide any detail as to the parameters you've been given so these points are pretty general and might not all apply:

Have the activity take place during working hours

This is often a sticking point for the company since they lose productivity during the time spent on the activity but people are generally more inclined to do something company-related when it doesn't impact on their free time. Also even those who aren't massively enthused at the particularly activity will often prefer it to working so that reduces that barrier to buy in. Something that extends after hours in a purely optional manner isn't quite as restrictive but if it requires them to stay late then it will cause problems for many in terms of their outside lives - picking kids up from school etc.

Ensure it doesn't cost the employees anything

The amount of companies that expect their staff to pay out of their own pockets for company activities is something that continually surprises me. It's rubbish and people hate it! Remember when considering this aspect that even if the company is covering the cost of the activity itself there maybe ancillary costs (transport, childcare etc) that can end up falling on the employees so be aware of this.

Booze

It's a cliche but in many cultures (particularly western such as the US, UK, Europe etc) alcohol is a social lubricant and the phrase "Free bar" is practically a magic spell. Not to everyone of course but it sure can win a lot of fans.

Ask the staff what they want

Depending on whether you already have some ideas you could put a shortlist out to a vote, or if you are completely stumped you could ask for suggestions and take the one that has the most votes while remaining feasible.

Offer incentives

Organise something with a friendly but competitive element and offer prizes that the staff would want, this can be anything from "real" prizes such as vouchers/gift cards etc to extra vacation days.

Don't make it "mandatory"

While this might up the actual attendance figures in the long run it's utterly counterproductive. Even people who would quite like to take part could easily end up resenting being compelled to attend.

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    Also - can families / partners attend (which is kind of a counter-point to having it take place during work hours)? Being able to bring either can provide good motivation to attend. But the best option is going to depend a lot on whether most employees actually have partners or families. – Dukeling Sep 19 '17 at 15:08
  • In the US, few employers will serve alcohol to employees. It's a bad idea. People suffering from alcoholism don't need more temptation from their employer. It's also a liability issue, Say Bob gets totally blotto drinking 15 beers at the company picnic, gets in his car and smashes into a bus full of toddlers. At best, the company will get sucked into a lawsuit, at worst, the company gets criminally charged. – DLS3141 Sep 19 '17 at 15:08
  • @DLS3141 Are you sure about the liability issue? Isn't drinking responsibly exclusively the responsibility of the individual? – Dukeling Sep 19 '17 at 15:11
  • IANL (nor am I in the US) but I believe the company would only be liable if consumption of alcohol was required or made the primary purpose of the activity (company organised beer pong for example), by and large though I would expect that the law would consider employees over the legal drinking age to adults who are responsible for their own actions with respect to alcohol. Otherwise Xmas parties would never happen! Good point on the potential for alcoholic employees though. If you know you've got one or more then it might not be a good idea. – motosubatsu Sep 19 '17 at 15:19
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    As an alternative to alcohol, free food worked fairly well at my last company, especially when it took place during lunch :) – user812786 Sep 19 '17 at 15:35

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