Do Social Events Count as Team Building?
A Manager’s guide to getting it right
Making the most of work-funded social events to build team spirit, encourage team bonding and celebrate business success can be a minefield. Read what we have to say about how to make the most of these opportunities for your business and your employees.
I have seen managers look with scorn upon work social events and mock their effectiveness as being nothing other than the company funding their employee’s regular Friday night down the pub.
This is a little short sighted, although I fully accept that some care and planning needs to be entered into for events, if you want employees have a good time AND learn something about themselves, their colleagues and the company.
Here are some pointers for Managers in holding a successful work-funded social event:
- Pick something that is inclusive. If you have team members that don’t drink alcohol, then a pub night maybe isn’t the best idea.
- Choose an event where people get to interact and not sit watching something passively like a film or play.
- If you’re a small company with limited funds, you don’t have to over extend yourself. If you take into account their ideas, your people will appreciate your efforts and enter into the spirit of it.
- Schedule it at a time when people can attend without difficulty
- If it’s a barbeque or something similar at a weekend when people might consider it ‘family time’ – then make sure their families are invited.
- If you are holding an event at a time when people would normally eat e.g. lunch or just after work – don’t be cheap! Order some food. It doesn’t have to be a gourmet menu – pizza or sandwiches might do the trick
- It is not essential, but it often helps to have some good news, a business achievement or perhaps a personal anniversary to celebrate. This helps to associate the fun of the social gathering with your organisation
- It’s a social event – do not put pressure on people to attend, it must be voluntary or part of the reason for doing it is lost. A boss’s jovial remark of “I’m expecting you to be there” might make a nervous or junior employee feel obligated.
- Managers should attend but don’t outstay your welcome. It sends completely the wrong message if you don’t attend, but the trick is knowing when to depart and let your people ‘blow off steam’ without the risk of embarrassing themselves in front of the boss. I’ve seen good leaders deftly arrive for a Christmas party, circulate broadly at the drinks reception, eat dinner, give a rousing speech, have one for the road and then be gone before the embarrassing dancing starts and Jim from accounts is found in a compromising position with Jane from operations!
Once you got the hang of this, why not take the next step and try a professional one-day team-building event? Taking one day out from the annual working calendar is a small inconvenience compared to the benefits of allowing your team to look at the ways in which they work together in a new light, have some fun and end on a social note. If your organisers get it right, your people will be enjoying themselves whilst practicing team-working techniques and perhaps getting to know more about colleagues and parts of the business that they rarely interact with on a day-to-day basis.
So, to answer the question – YES – If you get the balance right, well-planned social events can have an enormously positive impact on staff morale and teamwork!
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