When you’re looking at jobs and you cast your eyes over the benefits that are being offered by the employer in question, it’s common to see staff social events cropping up again and again. Is this really something that people want? If you’re in the position of the employer, this is an important question to answer as it can help you to offer the best benefits possible.
Understanding why people might be interested in social events as a benefit can help you to customize these events to be as enticing and effective as possible, but there’s no one way to do this, your options are varied enough to allow for some personalization and subjective preference.
The Classic Night Out
What’s important to recognize about these events from the get-go is that for some people, it might be their only outlet to socialize. While some people are fortunate enough to have friends and connections outside work, that won’t be universal. Therefore, any opportunity to increase people’s exposure to social situations is likely going to be appreciated.
There’s another element to consider here, which is that how much people enjoy these events could well depend on what the atmosphere and environment of your workplace is like. If everyone gets on, then there’s reason to think that these events will be successful occasions that everyone wants to get involved in. However, if the atmosphere at work is often hostile and tense, it might be much more difficult to convince people to spend even more time in the same group.
If everything is above board at work, though, you might feel that a straightforward night out setting could help to get everyone involved. This doesn’t mean that it has to be completely alcohol-focused; after all, you don’t want to alienate those who don’t drink. You can meet up at a restaurant or another casual environment like a bar that can let people enjoy whatever kind of refreshments they want, and you can all just sit and chat in a more informal setting. There’s a risk with these kinds of occasions that people might not feel comfortable enough to fully unwind in the presence of their employer, which is something to bear in mind. When alcohol is involved, it might increase the risk of inhibitions being lowered and people talking more frankly than they would in the workplace, which is something to bear in mind from your perspective.
A Game Focus
Instead, then, you might just want to make the event more focused on a. You might do this by choosing an event and sticking to that, with games often being something that people look for here. Bowling or escape rooms are popular choices. The first is individually competitive and so can naturally draw some division lines between those who have experience bowling, those who don’t, those who care about winning and those who don’t. With a group of friends, this doesn’t matter so much because the underlying foundation of their friendship might be able to just ignore any of these differences, but when it’s in a group where people aren’t familiar with each other, these might be bigger problems that will dampen the mood. In theory, escape rooms can be a more effective team-building exercise, but they also run a similar risk in that depending on how any people you have, some might take charge and others might then prefer to keep quiet and just be waiting for it to end. Activities are difficult for this reason of engagement; not everyone is going to be as enthusiastic to throw themselves into it.
For that reason, you might look to games that are ultimately more casual, something that can be done by having them be a part of a greater whole rather than the focus themselves. Cornhole boards are a good example of this, and having a work social that features a myriad of activities takes the pressure off any individual task to be the focus of fun. You can even decorate these easily enough to fit any theme that you’ve planned. If the work social at large is focused on sports or a specific game that’s coming up, you can shop for NFL cornhole boards that people can turn their attention to when they’re not watching the game.
Let the Staff Decide
An ideal work social event should be something that focuses on team bonding and strengthening the dynamic between your employees. That’s why avoiding the problems that can come with fierce competition and abrasiveness can help these to thrive. However, you can take this positive goal in your stride when you’re trying to think of what form this should take in the first place—something that can be done by giving your staff a say in the social event. If your employees feel as though they’re being dragged to events and occasions that they’re ultimately not interested in, they might feel less inclined to really put their best foot forward. However, getting to shape the event themselves doesn’t just make it more fun, it’s a gesture that people might appreciate.
This might be something that you do by giving them certain options, though too limited a list might have the same negative impact as simply telling them what you’re going to be doing. Instead then, you might offer a budget or some similar framework that can help your team to come to a conclusion on their own—showing a degree of trust in them that can go a long way.
Show What You Know
On the flip side of this, this might also be a good opportunity for you as the employer to showcase what you know about your staff at this point. That’s not to say that you should completely try and design an occasion that they have to love, just that taking the time to incorporate elements into these events that you know will appeal to your employees’ specific preferences might do a good job of showing how much you listen to them.
This kind of transparent dynamic and back and forth is important both inside the professional context and in these more informal settings—it helps to build a relationship of trust that can encourage your staff members to be more forthright with you, developing that all-important working dynamic, something that is ultimately the goal of workplace events like this.