If it wasn’t challenging or sometimes boring, stressful or filled with drama it wouldn’t be called work! Even if your office culture is generally pretty awesome, you may be seeking more ways to bring some fun into the workplace. If you’ve ever wondered, “How can I make my office fun?” a social committee might be for you.
A social committee is a group of employees charged with planning extracurricular activities for the office or department in which they work. This could include setting up networking opportunities or coordinating outings like baseball games or happy hours. Some social committees even organize volunteer activities so the team can serve together.
The best way for a social committee to meet the needs of the organization is to ask people what they’re looking to do or accomplish. Even if the social committee organizes some great events, it won’t be successful unless people participate.
If you want to start a social committee, you’ll need to enlist some help from others. You also want to check with your boss and potentially HR to ensure you’re following all company policies. Your boss may require you to hold committee meetings at lunch or outside of business hours.
Don’t assume everyone on the team likes the same thing. You may want to do a survey to ask people what they’d be interested in. You can ask about things like networking, happy hours, coffees, breakfasts, sporting events, volunteer outings or even starting a book club. The activities you plan should be based on attendees’ interests.
Depending on the size of the group and different types of events you’re planning, you may opt to start with quarterly or monthly events. A monthly happy hour or outing for coffee or ice cream should be fairly easy to organize if your team is on the smaller size. The larger the team, the further in advance you’ll need to start planning.
This may be determined by department budget and/or policies. Some companies don't reimburse employees for offsite events including alcohol. Make sure you know the company rules and communicate proactively. You don’t want employees to assume that social outings are on the company when the expectation is for people to pay their own way.
While a social committee should be a fun thing, you also have to make sure you’re being responsible. You’ll want to make sure you have plans in place to keep everyone safe. This includes no one drinking and driving home from happy hour, getting too drunk or getting injured on a hike or at a sporting event. While accidents can always happen, having plans to keep everyone safe will keep you ahead of the game. Don’t forget to factor in things like food allergies when making plans. If someone on the team is severely allergic to peanuts, it’s best to make sure that you choose places that don’t use them when possible. If you’re serving food or beverages at your events, make sure allergens are clearly labeled.
Just having social events does not make the social committee successful. You’ll want to make sure your events are well-attended and that everyone is having fun and feels included. Make sure you’re not excluding people who don’t drink or don’t like sports. If there's a group of people in the office who regularly don’t participate in social events, ask them why. In addition to not drinking or liking sports, there are many other reasons people may not be able to or want to participate in social events. For example, employees who are also taking part-time classes or caring for children or other relatives may not be able to join in after-work activities. If you find that this is the case, your committee may want to consider adding activities during lunch breaks or in the afternoon when everyone can participate.
Employees who have the opportunity to get to know each other and form personal relationships generally report feeling more engaged at work. When you start a social committee, you may want to start gathering data on employee engagement. If your company does an employee engagement survey, look at the scores before you start doing social events and then measure progress periodically.
Social activities may give employees opportunities to get to know company leaders in a different way. Then, when opportunities for advancement come up, employees may feel more comfortable applying for a new role if they’ve had a chance to spend time with their new boss in a less formal setting.
The team that plays together stays together. Lower turnover may be a result of increased employee engagement. Creating opportunities to be social and have fun with colleagues might make employees less likely to seek other jobs.
When things get tense at work, it's easier to snap at people you don’t know well than people you do. By creating opportunities to get to know each other, conflict might be minimized, especially during times of stress. This could be because when you form relationships, you communicate better and in healthier ways.
Social activities can increase feelings of inclusion in diverse teams. By providing opportunities for team members of different backgrounds to interact in a more casual manner, employees might find similarities they didn’t know existed. As people mix and mingle, employees who seem different may be able to find some common ground with colleagues. This could include favorite foods or vacation spots or even learning about shared hobbies that may have never come up in a meeting or on a conference call.
A social committee can be a lot of fun for all involved, and there are many legitimate business reasons to connect with colleagues outside of work projects!
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