Social interaction in a business is important. But beyond a nice fuzzy feeling, does “social” really matter at work, and just how do you encourage it?
As we all now know, a healthy workplace culture and employee wellbeing has a direct impact on productivity. There are many different ways these can be invested in but we think Socialising is one method that comes out on top. Encouraging your staff to spend time together away from their desks, and providing opportunity for fun is a guaranteed way to boost morale, uplift your culture and let your staff know that the business values them.
For some, the idea of planning or attending something sociable may fill you with dread. How can you avoid all those truly (hashtag) awkward pauses in conversation while you try to think of something to say to Steve from Accounts? Ugh, Organised Fun… Why can’t we all just be spontaneous, right? Well, that kind of approach might work for some companies, but if it’s six months since anybody in your office mooted the idea of going out for drinks after work or having lunch together you might want to continue reading.
In our business we’ve had to take some purposeful steps to ensure that social “stuff” happens around here. Rewind six or seven years and regular staff outings didn’t seem to be an issue. The workforce was mainly twenty-somethings, child-free, disposable-income rich. A Friday drink (singular) could frequently turn into a night out-out “on the town” and we would happily regale our stories on Monday morning and launch ourselves into the next week.
Now, many of us have children, a few of the old crowd have left (maybe they were the spontaneous ones – who knows?), the business has expanded hugely and the balance has quietly shifted. We have several different teams within one business, diverse functions and personality types. Folk who are out on the road and some who work in the office. Some of our staff start at 4am and I’m pretty sure they’re not feeling super sociable then. Now we know from experience that it’s hard to cater for everyone if you rely purely on being spontaneous.
A little while back we realised that it had been a really long time since any of us had done anything fun together (boo), so we set up a social committee. This small group of people is tasked with organising regular staff outings, team building days, and charity fundraising efforts for the business and in all honesty we haven’t looked back. Not only does it create a structure and help to build an expectation within the company that at least once a quarter we’ll be doing something fun, but our activities have become a lot more creative too. Rather than the usual drinking sessions we had before, our committee have organised days at the races, lock-in rooms, bring and share lunches, pool sessions and much more.
If your social calendar is looking a little dusty (like ours was) then introducing a social committee just might be the answer. Take your first steps by getting the word out and asking for volunteers. Ideally you will have one representative from each part of the business so that all voices can be heard. Make sure your team are enthusiastic about the mission too – it’s about improving quality of work-life not just having a giggle.
Put it in the diary
Next up: schedule in some regular committee meet ups – you might need more frequent brainstorming sessions in the beginning which then become less regular once things get going. Treat these like any other work meeting: have a chair, a note taker, and ensure all your actions are assigned and accounted for. Whilst it might be a fun remit – nobody wants to attend another meeting just for the sake of it.
Then once you get going in organising and executing the fun stuff, always invite feedback. The only way this is going to serve the business as a whole is if everyone is getting something out of it. You might think bungee jumping is a great team building exercise, but it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
We think a social committee is the perfect vehicle to ensure there is consistency in building authentic relationships and trust amongst employees.
There are other benefits too:
- Committee members can showcase skills outside of their normal day to day role.
- Employees gain a sense of personal reward by being involved in social and charitable events that benefit others.
- It’s an opportunity for different departments within the business to collaborate.
- Many social committees take responsibility for corporate social responsibility initiatives too, meaning it’s potentially one less thing on the board’s agenda.
- At the end of the day, it’s just plain fun!
If you are part of a business that has no problem with spontaneous socialising, then good for you. But I have a feeling that there are more businesses out there like us who have let things slide and need a bit of motivation. Why not give a social committee a try?