Why you should always support company social events  

The reason companies need to host social events? Quite simply to encourage people to make friends at work. Friendships in workplace boost innovation, efficiency and… well, teamwork! Don’t believe us?  

The Research:  

  • A 2018 Gallup survey found women who strongly agreed they had a best friend at work were more than twice as likely to report feeling engaged by their work and workplace than those who did not (sixty-three percent compared to twenty-nine percent).  
  • The same research found, overall, people with friends in the workplace feel seven times more engaged with their work.  
  • In the Harvard Business Review study, The Progress Principle, analysis of more than 200 employees at innovative companies concluded that workplace friendships make people more creative and productive by building positive emotions which are channeled into work tasks and into perceptions of the organization as a whole.  

There are several factors that can affect whether or not employees feel comfortable forming relationships with colleagues in the workplace — including:  

Having opportunities to communicate face-to-face  

Employees may IM, text, or email each other during the day about work; don’t assume, however, that means they’re connecting on a deeper level. These more impactful conversations and connections occur more naturally and quicker in face-to-face environments, and are often fostered by social events that don’t come with the stress and deadlines that can loom over mid-work chats. 

Social media may also not be the best option. While more than seven in 10 professionals (71 percent) feel it’s appropriate to connect with colleagues on Facebook, fewer feel it’s OK to be linked on Twitter (61 percent) or Instagram (56 percent), according to an OfficeTeam survey. In-person company social events will likely be a more effective way for employees to get to know each other.  

But beware…  

While workplace friendships are overwhelmingly a good thing, there are still pitfalls to watch out for. A 2018 study published by The Academy of Management Review found that there can be a dark side to workplace friendships. As well as the obvious potential for distracting people from getting on with their work, there can be complicated issues such as workplace rivalries, the difficulties surrounding managers being friends with employees they supervise, and the dangers of workplace cliques arising. Most of these issues can be addressed by appropriate management training and – on occasion – developing and enforcing specifically targeted workplace policy that addresses these concerns without discouraging developing and fostering friendships.  

Additional Benefits

Hosting a company event comes with many other small benefits as well. 

Staff Morale. Giving your team something to look forward to not only makes the rest of their work week seem to pass quicker, but it also lets them know that their hard work is noticed and appreciated. Not only will an event like this show your team that the company cares about them, but it also physically brings the team together, often fostering additional friendships that bring the above-mentioned benefits to their daily work life. 

Networking. Social events that bring multiple teams together provide a unique opportunity for employees to meet staff members they otherwise might not work with regularly and develop new connections. Allowing departments that don’t regularly interact time to get to know each other and the role they play can lead to exciting innovation, creative problem solving, and even product or service development that would have otherwise never happened. 

Bringing Leadership and Employees Together. There’s always going to be a natural division in the office between management and employees. However, allowing these two sides to get to know each other better can often times help employees see where their bosses are coming from on certain issues, and remind both sides that the individuals are regular people too. This reminder that leadership are really your peers on the same team as you, just in a different position, can help foster stronger relationships and a better, more collaborative work environment. 

Showcase and Strengthen Your Company Culture. These social events are a fantastic chance to highlight who you are as an organization. Using these gatherings to reinforce your core values helps create buy-in among your team and can empower them to take on your values as their own. 

Celebrate Your Employees. Lastly, it’s crucial for companies to look for reasons to celebrate the work and achievements of their teams. Take the time to make sure your employees feel acknowledged. Award and recognize individual and company-wide successes and make sure everyone’s aware that you appreciate the effort they contributed to making all of this happen. 

For additional tips on increasing employee engagement and satisfaction, read our blog posts on the 4 ways company pride can invigorate engagement and creating the ideal employee recognition program.  

If enthusiasm in your office has seemed lackluster lately, our posts on employee satisfaction drivers to watch and how to get your workplace culture mojo back may also be of interest.