Encouraging the social element of business is always a good idea. It allows friendships – not just networks – to form
In dim corners of the banquet hall, small groups of people huddle together. They’re not from the same line of business and neither are they peers. They smile and chat, but theirs is not party banter – a strategy, maybe, some action steps! Yet brows are unwrinkled. Heads bob in agreement – okay, everyone’s on the same page? Great! Some laughter later, a few people break away. Agenda covered, they move to another cluster, or the dance floor.
Most organizations have them – Office parties and socials. Big parties celebrate the closure of a successful year, a festival or a huge deal. Small socials celebrate birthdays and milestones. Attendance is usually good and everyone has a good time. Happily, the carefully designed org-structure and hierarchy gets effectively flattened specially for the event!
Encouraging the social element of business is always a good idea. It allows friendships – not just networks – to form. It adds positivity to the climate and infuses bonhomie into an otherwise cold, professional relationship. Socials influence people who don’t give an inch in a meeting room discussion, to become more open and amenable. Even that ice-cold grouch of a boss actually seems human!
Within reason, periodic office socials – ‘human’ time during the workday – are a good idea and help a stress-free work environment! And they don’t have to be expensive, or elaborate – or even compulsory to attend. If you have one, they will come!
Here are some ideas to get the creative juices flowing:
- Post-six hysterics: A fifteen-minute session after 6pm. The team huddles together in a meeting room for a great laugh, sharing office stories. It is amazing how people find wild humor even in serious circumstances!
- Sunshine Friday: A two hour no-disturbance slot, on any Friday of the month. Individuals can spend ‘think time’ researching or seeking answers to questions like: how are others doing my kind of work; can I call upon any existing wisdom; how have past failures been overcome?
- Post-review coffee: Monthly reviews are exhausting! For those who are struggling to meet numbers, it can get depressing too. A one-hour coffee-session at the downstairs café can turn things around and clear any hard feelings.
- Ad hoc R&R: Invite one person from another team. Maybe a linkage who has helped your teamwork faster, better and cheaper. Recognize and thank the person. Make her feel special and publically applaud her effort.
- Celebrate birthdays: The easiest. Many confectionery shops deliver birthday cakes to offices. A 15-minute get-together to sing happy birthday, share some cake and have some great laughs!
But all good things need caveats:
- Office socials are budget events: Annual events covering the larger employee population tend to be elaborate. Socials, on the other hand, are for smaller workgroups using meeting rooms and neighborhood cafes. Avoid premium places!
- Choose events appropriate to the team’s demographics and strength. One size doesn’t always fit all. If in doubt, ask the team!
- Communicate clearly: It is important for people to understand what the event is about and how much time is allocated to it.
- Attendance should never be mandatory. Hopefully, the positivity of the event will attract people. Forcing people to attend, against their will, is always counter-productive. And never, ever, make it sound as if the event is a huge favor to the employee! People are sensitive!
‘Office Social’ is not an oxymoron – provided people’s manners and budgets stay within the realm of reason. The commencement of a new year makes it an ideal time to evaluate and allocate some money towards this positive, employee-friendly initiative.