Keeping out-of-hours events inclusive

There are few things some companies like to do more than socialise. While people in the office might live a somewhat siloed existence, or even make life worse for their colleagues by using jargon words like “siloed”, the opportunity for people to meet up outside the office and let their hair down can be highly beneficial.

At that point, the ties can come off, the corporate speak can end, tongues can be loosened and people can discover that their bosses and other colleagues are, in fact, human beings after all. This exciting revelation can then be taken back to the office, where staff can enjoy work more knowing they might just like the people they share the same space with for so much of their lives.

This, at least, is the theory. But while work socials can be fun, it is important to make sure they are things everyone can enjoy.

Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler
An obvious example will be the involvement of alcohol. Going to the pub on a Friday at the end of a long week, having an occasional party with a bar on company expenses, or even bringing a few cans and bottles into the office may be great fun for some people. But it is easy to get the balance wrong.

Alcohol-influenced bad behaviour could embarrass the company or cause personal problems with a colleague, not least someone of the opposite sex. This is an issue over which warnings are often sounded before the Christmas party, but it applies all year round, whenever there is drink about.

Moreover, it is also important to consider the wishes and needs of those who would rather keep their drinking moderate, or abstain altogether. Provision should be made for those who are teetotal, and that means having more than just a token orange squash alternative.

Fine-tune the food
The same factors should apply to food, which needs to be considered if caterers are being brought in. From those with very specific dietary requirements to vegetarians and vegans, this is an area where it is important to check with staff first what they can and can’t eat. Food intolerances are also a factor here, so beware of the needs of those who cannot consume lactose, gluten or nuts.

Consideration should also be given to the kind of activities undertaken. For instance, a night of ten-pin bowling may be good fun for all, but a theatre show may contain themes or content some will either be offended by or simply find boring.

Keeping Mum (and Dad)
It is also important to consider family situations when arranging social events. Single people may be able to stay out late, but those with families may have to miss some events if they cannot get a babysitter, or need to return home early. It is important not to foster a culture of cliques, with the ‘in crowd’ who paint the town red while others have to head home.

In short, it is important to consider the make-up of your workforce when arranging social events. Check what people’s needs, likes and dislikes are before planning something and set boundaries that it should not cross. If the emphasis is kept firmly on building good relationships between staff, work social events will help create harmony and develop a better working environment as a result.



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