Understandably, with the recent recession and anemic economic growth, many employers are looking at ways to reduce costs.  Oftentimes, employee perks are the first cuts to improve margins. Don't do it. Here's why.

I just spent Saturday at the eighth annual Beryl Health Family Day.  We brought our employees and their families together to spend the day enjoying face painting, rock climbing, fishing, bingo, softball games, balloon hats, a "ranch Olympics," and some delicious barbecue.  Close to 800 people attended, and we spent thousands of dollars to support it. 

Could those dollars have been saved and applied directly to our bottom line? Sure. But dollars were invested wisely on the bounce house and lemonade because of the dynamic returns we'll get. 

Here are five ways I know the company picnic pays off:

1. It shows commitment.

Employees are aware of the sluggish economy and notice other employers are cutting back.  By sticking with beloved events, even in tough times, our employees return that devotion right back to us each day they come through our doors.

2. It breaks down walls. 

We work hard all year long and build up natural silos between departments.  But when the manager of a different department is in the batter's box hitting for your assistant's team, he can't help but root for her. We're building camaraderie, and connections.

3. We support families.

Don't underestimate the value of being loved by the little ones—not just because it's a joy to see the smiles of hundreds of kids.  When those children leave our picnic, they can talk about the great place that mommy and daddy work.  Bridging the relationship between work and family means as a company we have hundreds of chicken-nugget eating, homework-doing champions waiting for our employees to come home.

4. We inspire gratitude.

The appreciation I witness from all employees who attend these events is heartwarming and affirms our purpose.  They know we don't have to do it, and are thankful.  And that encourages employee loyalty and continued hard work.

5. I feel rewarded.

I admit, there's one more personal payoff.  Family Day is one of only a couple of times each year that I can look around and see hundreds of smiling faces all at the same time and take pride that it wouldn't have happened without our company.  Nothing beats 800 people enjoying something you poured your heart into. 

I mean it. Think twice before you cut the company picnic, or events like it.  Invest in smiles (and lots of sunscreen), and you'll get the financial and emotional reward.