With 2017 gone by and the starting of the New Year, many organisations organize parties, events and get-togethers for their employees in a social setting. Most of these events are held outside the office, and sometimes span more than a day. In such a situation, it is important for employees and employers to remember a few important things before being a part of such events. We list down some essential etiquette to take note of. What’s more, these tips are equally applicable in the case of extended annual company retreats, offsite training and activities, or even a quick and impromptu lunch across the street.
Let’s begin with some pointers for employees:
What to do:
Attend: Time and again, surveys and studies show that many employees dread socialising with their co-workers, with a recent Randstad survey saying that nearly 90% of employees might prefer a holiday bonus, or extra time off to an actual company party. But unless you have a pressing personal commitment beforehand, make it a point to be a part of the retreat or party. Not only does it provide you a chance to get to know colleagues outside of your immediate department, you get to take a break from the work and get paid for it!
RSVP promptly: Do not wait until the last minute to see who is going, in order to confirm your own plans. You might not be privy to it, but a lot of planning and coordination goes on behind the scenes to ensure that you have a good time, and a timely confirmation of your schedule goes a long way in making it a little easier for the organisers. Do not change your plans on a whim, and avoid cancelling at the last minute, unless it is an emergency.
Dress appropriately: More often than not, you will be told the dress code beforehand, but if you are not, there is no harm in confirming the same. Regardless of where you are going, and for how long, remember you will still an employee of the organisation, and if you at an offsite meeting or training, you will probably part of formal spaces as well – so dress accordingly.
Talk: Talk to colleagues from other departments, talk to your boss, or talk to anybody you have haven’t worked with before! If you are going to stick to the same group of people you hang out in the office with, you might be defeating the purpose of going to another location altogether.
The point is to get to know the people you work with, and you might be pleasantly surprised to find shared interests and common perspectives with those you least expect to. A simple, “Hello, How are you doing” is usually enough to get the ball rolling.
Watch the bubbly: If there is an open bar at the venue, or a plan to unwind later in the day, make sure you know just how much you are going to let your hair down. Having an unlimited supply of premium liquor could be tempting, but, it is not worth the embarrassing slip-up that could follow if you get a little too tipsy. As a thumb rule, do not drink more than you would usually at a business lunch.
What Not To Do:
Complain: Sure, you hate your job and everything that comes along with it – the office, the colleagues, the overpowering air conditioning, the coffee and the slow internet – but save it for when you are back in office. Unless there is a direct request for you to suggest improvements in the office space, do not mistake this event to be an unregulated complain box. Worse still, do not point out how bad the food is, or how ‘bored’ you are feeling.
Discuss work: As mentioned above, talking with your colleagues and bosses is essential – but do not fall into the trap of discussing work and work only. Maybe you can use it to initiate a conversation, but do not make it the whole focus of your conversation. You have stepped outside the office for a reason – to leave the regular routine, small talk and petty distractions behind – and focus on knowing your co-workers in a different environment.
Sit out the games: Usually, ice-breakers and other activities might be arranged for you to participate in. Do not sit out these games, and participate in them with genuine interest. Be a sport, and engage with others, because sometimes, the point is to play a ‘silly’ game. Sitting on the sidelines will not go unnoticed, and what’s more, you will also miss out on having a good time.
Forget you are still among colleagues: In essence, never forget that you might not be in a strictly formal setting, but you are still with people that you share a formal and professional relationship with. Don’t make personal remarks, or over-share.
As far employers go, make sure you go all out to ensure that the participants have a good time, and actually have a chance to relax.
Keeping the following in mind will help:
Don’t forget the ride: Oftentimes, amid all the planning and coordination, an important detail is skipped: how will your employees reach the said location. If you are planning to another city, ensure employees are paired for their rides to and from the airport/station, or provide them pick and drop facilities yourself. Even for intra-city travel, make sure that those who opt for it, adequate arrangements are present for reaching and departing from the venue, especially if alcohol is served during the said event.
Clarify: Make sure that the invitation mentions the overall theme, the tone, the aim of the event. Is it a purely informal party, a weekend getaway, a working retreat, or a learning-cum-relaxing offsite meeting? Be friendly, open and clarify any doubt – no matter how trivial.
Allowing your employees to be better prepared will be beneficial, and will, say, set the agenda for what the retreat in Goa will actually be all about. If you are taking your employees to a different city for a weekend of conferences and meetings – make sure that they know beforehand.
Don’t micromanage: With the last point comes a warning – do not play a parent. You are taking a group of responsible, working adults, and while you need to ensure their safety, you need not micromanage and schedule every second of the said outing. Make sure that the schedule is flexible, has enough room for impromptu activities, and some free unsupervised time as well. Your employees are anyway told what to do for the rest of the year, cut them some slack, and allow them to make the most of the opportunity. You cannot force them to have a good time, unless you actually set the pace for enjoying and relaxing.
Invite the partners: If the said offsite retreat is all fun and adventure sports, and if your budget permits, invite the partners of your employees as well. ‘The more the merrier’ approach might as well work here, as a more diverse set of participants will bring with them their own set of experiences and contribute to the group dynamic.
How was the last offsite meeting that you were a part at your organization? Let us know if we missed something!