Considering networking events, a staff get-together, or team days? Read on for the benefits of work socials and tips on how you can meet your employer obligations when managing events that aim to thank the staff, build better working relationships and positive company culture.
Running a business is expensive, and when juggling day-to-day overheads like rising energy bills, staffing, and marketing costs, it can be very tempting to cut back on hosting social events for employees to save costs.
This could however be a false economy when we consider the valuable benefits that social events can provide for staff well-being and improving workplace relations in the long run.
Benefits Of Social Events At Work
Whether its team-building days, networking events, or small-scale celebrations, such as cake and coffee on a Friday afternoon, social events like these are incredibly beneficial to workplace relations, and here’s why:
- Improves Morale & Engagement: When employees feel appreciated and rewarded they are more likely to be engaged in their work and demonstrate higher levels of morale. Social events can create a positive atmosphere, helping to build trust between colleagues, encourage collaboration and foster creativity. This can lead to improved job satisfaction and better performance overall.
- Build Relationships: Building relationships is essential for any workplace, and social events provide a great opportunity to do this. If you have several departments that work in different locations or rarely get to interact with each other, hosting social events could provide an opportunity for employees to connect and discover common interests. This in turn will help foster relationships between colleagues and teams that all add up to a positive company culture and improved working relationships.
- Strengthens Teamwork: Social events like team-building activities can be invaluable for businesses. This type of event allows employees to work together in a relaxed but productive environment, which can lead to better communication and trust. Ultimately, this strengthens the team dynamic and encourages collaboration between different departments.
- Develops Networking Skills: Social events are also a great way to help your employees develop their networking skills. Attending company-hosted events allows them to meet new people who may be potential contacts for their careers or new business for your organisation. This can help build connections and relationships that might not otherwise have been formed.
- Provides Valuable Downtime: Social events can also serve as a much-needed break from the stress of work. Organising social events is not only a good way for employees to unwind and de-stress, but it also shows that you value their health and well-being, you appreciate them as individuals, and can help them return to work feeling motivated, energised, and more productive.
Tips On Managing Workplace Social Events
Whilst work socials are meant to be fun and come with plenty of benefits, business owners need to remember that work events are an extension of the workplace, so your employer’s liabilities, policies and employment law still apply.
Here are some tips on how to manage workplace social events to minimise the chance of employment tribunals, complaints or disciplinary issues occurring.
- Conduct a Health & Safety Review: Before organising any event, conduct a health and safety review. This includes making sure the venue is suitable for the type of event you’re holding, as well as considering any specific risks due to the activity or personnel involved.
- Attendance Shouldn’t Be Compulsory: It will be impossible to organise events that suit everyone’s tastes and availability, but inclusivity should be at the foundation of all planning. Any issues surrounding attendance must be taken into consideration and no one should feel pressured to join in or to face different treatment because they are attending (or not).
- Beware Of Discrimination Risks: Following on from the point above, you should take steps to prevent precluding certain people from coming with the arrangements made. This could be those with childcare or caring responsibilities, or religious observances. Locations will also need to accommodate any disabled workers; and food and drink options should meet all religious, cultural and dietary requirements.
- Watch For Inappropriate Behaviour: Often informal and relaxed events, especially where alcohol is available, can lead to colleagues dropping their guard and a higher chance of misplaced and unwelcome comments or behaviour being displayed. Be sure to remind your staff about expected behaviour and that bullying, harassment and other relevant policies still apply. Any reports of misconduct should be managed via usual grievance procedures.
- Social Media: Remind your employees of your social media policy and the importance of protecting the company from any damage to its reputation that could occur if any inappropriate images taken at a work party are shared online.
- Be Wary Of Informal Business Conversations: Managers must be aware of their proclivity to discuss pay, promotions or other pertinent business matters in social settings. They must be reminded to avoid these topics and look for more suitable opportunities down the road. Unintended legally binding commitments could occur as a result, not to mention when sensitive information about the company or others may slip out unintentionally.
- Clarify Objectives: It’s important to have clear objectives for the event. Are you looking to build relationships among employees? Strengthen team dynamics and collaboration. Or provide a fun way to reward staff?
- Consider Budget: When organising social events, you should consider your budget carefully and make sure there’s enough money allocated to cover the costs. Try investing in activities that can be used again in the future, or creating a program that balances bigger events with smaller, less expensive options to get the best of both worlds.
- Communicate With Staff: Communicate with your staff about the event ahead of time so they know what’s expected from them, and remind them of any relevant staff guidance or policies that apply. You should also ask for feedback after the event to ensure it was successful.
- Build a Positive Atmosphere: Social events should be fun for everyone involved, but you must also ensure they are respectful and inclusive so that employees feel safe to express themselves without judgement or criticism.
How To Pick The Right Events For Your Business
By investing in social events, your business can reap the rewards they bring to the work environment, but to pick the right one for your business, you will need to review the company’s needs, budget and objectives. Here are some simple ideas to consider:
- Team Building Activities: Activities like scavenger hunts, escape rooms or team challenge relays encourage collaboration and problem-solving skills while allowing employees to get to know each other in a fun environment. Could you sponsor a charity event that your staff want to enter? That way you help others, build your team relations, and get to benefit from additional PR exposure all at once!
- Networking Events: Attending networking events can be beneficial for both employers and employees. It allows employees to build connections that could lead to new business opportunities or career advancement, while also helping the company to increase its contacts and develop relationships with potential customers.
- Celebrations: Celebrating success is a great way to show your appreciation for the hard work of your employees. Hosting celebrations like staff parties, cake days or coffee afternoons provides a fun and relaxed atmosphere that encourages team bonding and builds morale. Marking milestones like targets being reached, anniversaries, or big birthdays are also a great way to show staff that you care.
- Regular Social Events: Not everyone will want to join in, but creating regular opportunities for staff to meet and engage in relaxed scenarios can provide ways to get everyone involved on their terms. Consider after-work drinks, monthly breakfast events, cinema evenings, book clubs, bring-a-plate events and BBQs for inexpensive ways to get staff mingling away from their PC screens.
We hope this overview of how social events can improve workplace relations has given you plenty of ideas when it comes to incorporating valuable downtime with staff into your business plans.
Providing opportunities for your teams to socialise away from their desk not only shows them that you value their hard work and want to reward them but can provide valuable chances to foster better relations between team members and build stronger connections with customers, partners and other businesses.
If you would like support with managing and understanding your HR and employer responsibilities when organising social events in the workplace, or dealing with disciplinary, grievances or tribunals that may arise as a result of an event, please contact us.