Socializing with co-workers away from the workplace? An excellent idea! Organizing informal activities to encourage employees to hang out together in a different environment is not only a good way of having more fun, it also has a positive impact on team dynamics and, ultimately, on productivity. More importantly, it’s apparently good for your health!
We don’t work just to earn a salary or apply our knowledge. For a significant number of workers, work is a source of enjoyment, mainly because it allows them to interact with others and build relationships. For this reason, organizations have everything to gain from organizing purely social activities, and employees have everything to gain from participating in them.
Benefits for employees
Such outings can:
- Help employees get to know each other, thereby boosting their willingness to help each other out, in addition to increasing solidarity and team spirit, qualities that are essential in any organization, especially when it comes to problem solving.
- Establish a connection between managers and employees. Discussing topics unrelated to their professional life contributes to making the team members (including those in a management position) seem more likeable and “down to earth.”
- Boost employees’ enjoyment and satisfaction with regard to their job and working environment. In difficult times during a person’s career, the ties that develop between certain co-workers can be a source of motivation and perseverance.
- Act as a valve to release pressure and relieve stress. There’s nothing better than a good laugh and a humorous exchange at the end of a busy day!
A plus for the organization
Investing (mainly time and sometimes a little money) in the workplace social life also has a win-win outcome for all organizations. Although organizations are under no obligation to organize activities for their employees, it’s definitely in their interest to do so, in order to:
- Reinforce their employees’ loyalty and motivation.
- Increase employee efficiency: Employees who are less stressed, re-energized and more inclined to work together will give the best of themselves.
- Boost the organization’s reputation and image, demonstrating that it is enjoyable to work there, while contributing to make its employees excellent ambassadors for potential recruits.
Switch things up
Organizing an activity for a group of people can involve time and energy, so there may be high expectations regarding participation. Nearly a third (31.8%) of respondents in a 2014 Jobboom survey indicated that they would participate in activities organized by their company in order to develop connections and increase their sense of belonging. 29.5% of respondents indicated that they would do so because they liked their co-workers. However, a quarter of respondents indicated they would do so only because they felt obliged.
But no pressure!
Employees who refuse to take part in activities must not be rejected or isolated. If certain employees don’t participate in activities that have been organized, don’t make a big deal about it. If it’s a small team, one employee’s absence will, of course, be more noticeable. Is there some way of encouraging employees who don’t participate as much in activities? Offer a variety of activities, including some that would appeal to people who are a little shyer than others. There’s a realm of possibility between drinks after work with a few co-workers and the formal employee recognition gala dinner: healthy cooking classes, a friendly volleyball competition, team triathlons, weekend at a resort, harbour cruise, dinner show… The choice is yours!