How much social activity to expect

Nov 3, 2014 | Good Management

The festive season approaches and with it an increased social calendar in the majority of workplaces. Most employers organise some kind of Christmas party or event for staff, and in some organisations it’s entirely possible that there will be several events, perhaps smaller team outings, an organisation-wide event, and often informal Christmas drinks organised amongst colleagues.

How important is it that people attend these?

You may feel they are important for team bonding, relationship building and also to reward staff for hard work, but if you want to ensure high attendance, consider the following:

  • Cost – obviously if you pay for the event or at least subsidise it heavily, people are more likely to come. Christmas is an expensive time and many people will resent having to spend hard-earned cash on a work event.
  • Timing – if employees have childcare responsibilities, a lunchtime event will clearly be easier for them to attend. If you do choose an evening event, consider days of the week also. Are there days where more part time staff will not be at work? Consider avoiding Fridays as people often go away for the weekend, and Friday evening events may also exclude Jewish staff.
  • Activities – try and choose entertainment or activities which will appeal to as wide a range of people as possible. Consider seeking views and input from staff when planning to maximise the chances of the result being something people will want to attend.

Ultimately though, there will always be people who can’t attend or prefer not to. Some people just don’t enjoy socialising combined with work and prefer to keep their social life very separate. Others may feel costs are prohibitive or have responsibilities that mean attendance is difficult. Whatever the reason for non-attendance, staff should not be penalised or treated less favourably in any way, or excluded in future.

What if it’s part of the job?

Depending on the culture of the organisation, and on what business activities are involved, there may also be client events, supplier events or industry-specific get togethers. Sometimes attendance at events such as these might be “expected” in some roles. But be careful, although you might want to consider taking action if staff for whom out-of-hours social events are part of their role don’t attend you should take a number of things into account:

  • Do they have childcare or other personal responsibilities which make attendance more difficult, and if so, are they making genuine efforts to attend?
  • Are the events really genuinely a necessary part of the role? It’s perfectly possible that the job can be done perfectly well without socialising in this way, and if that is the case, you shouldn’t penalise anyone for not doing so.
  • Is it clear to employees the extent to which this is expected? If regular attendance out of hours is definitely a necessary part of the role, make sure this is absolutely clear at recruitment stage and in the employees’ job descriptions and contracts.

If you have any further queries and need some advice, do get in touch.