Social events can help staff de-stress and connect as a team

A bonded team works better together, is more motivated, more productive and creates a more pleasant working atmosphere. Social events don’t have to be expensive or grand – a local meal out can be enjoyed by everyone.

Ask opinions

Different employees favour different social events. Whilst paintballing sounds exciting it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Ask employees what they’d like to do as a social event; you may wish to take anonymous feedback to avoid embarrassment if one person is not keen on a popular idea. The aim is to ensure everyone is happy with the chosen event; the atmosphere will be less than positive if only a handful of attendees are looking forward to the occasion.

Combine activities

Specialist events are great but often people would like to simply go out for a meal and enjoy each other’s company. Combining events is a great way to keep everyone happy: you could put on an event during the afternoon and then follow up with food in the evening. The downside is that you may have utilise an afternoon and lose the associated man hours although there is the option of holding it on a weekend. Some employees dislike weekend events as they’d prefer to spend these days with family; ask around to see what the opinion is at your company.

Negotiate discounts

Corporate hospitality centres are very likely to offer discounts for larger parties, and there’s a good chance restaurants and bars will too. Make sure you directly enquire about special offers; the market is competitive so you’ll always be able to go to a competitor. If you can’t get a financial discount, ask about getting a free place for directors or a buffet thrown in with events like paintball or bowling. There’s always a way to increase the value.

Send out invitations early

Invitations for social events should be sent out as early as possible. People invariably fill diaries in advance, particularly those with family commitments, and you want to maximise turnout. Aim for at least a month if possible; that way if you find the turnout is likely to be low you can rearrange easily without disrupting everyone’s calendar.

Set ground rules

It’s important to set ground rules when dealing with social events, to avoid confusion and potential embarrassment. If the event is held during work hours, will non-attendees be allowed to go home or will they be required to work? If the event is held on a work night, will you allow staff members a later start the next day? Are partners invited? These questions should be answered on the invitation, or provided to staff in a follow-up meeting.

Request feedback

Social events can always be improved so it’s a great idea to request feedback from staff after an event has concluded. What parts did they enjoy the most? What parts did they enjoy the least? The results can then be analysed and used to plan even better social events for the future. You may find, for example, that employees would have preferred a more family-friendly social event, and could open the next one to partners and children.