Should you have to go to work socials?

more articles

Over the past decade, organizations have placed a much bigger focus on ‘cultural fit’ when making hiring decisions, with terms like work-wife and work-husband becoming as commonplace as ties in the office. As these changes occur however, it’s not all holding hands and hair braiding, with some employees feeling their separation of home and work is ultimately harming their career.

As whilst we all have different priority’s when it comes to clocking off; from friends, to family, to our ten cats, a feeling of obligation to stay late has appeared, not to work but to socialize.

Helping to foster the aforementioned cultural fit, Dr Watchel, owner of Cherry Creek Psychology, states a willingness to socialize is “really important to foster a sense of loyalty and teamwork”. However whilst for many of us the odd drink with workmates is a welcome relief from our desks, for some the activity fills them with dread… So when we’re only being paid for the nine-to-five, is it fair to enforce after-work socializing?

One-fifth of us feel it is, going for a drink with co-workers at least once a month. However, these outings can be precarious, where both attending and not attending can lead to career suicide. John Seeley, President of Blue Moon Wonders Coaching Company, suggests that we pick our social outings carefully, attending events in the hopes of furthering our career. Writing, “most employees don’t get a lot of face time with the big bosses, making a good impression outside of work might be the difference when you’re up for that next promotion”, he suggests employees attend work-organized activities but steer away from employee drinks.

Even larger events like Christmas parties can be seen as alienating to certain employees, however, often aimed at single workers, boasting late nights and heavy spending. In fact, they’ve been heralded as one of the reasons the gender pay gap widens for working mums, as rushing home to the kids means less time to charm the boss.

Despite a long-held cliché of “don’t mix business with pleasure”, as the work-place becomes a much more attractive place to be, it’s become more likely that the two come hand in hand, with activities after 5:30 becoming essential to attract millennial talent.

To avoid creating a split then between staff who enjoy hanging late with work friends and those who don’t, it’s important that the workplace becomes a place to socialize during working hours, allowing friendships to be made over the photocopier, as well as over the bar.

As Tracy Dumas, Assistant Professor of Management and Human Resources at Ohio University, says, “if everyone can feel good about the work they’re doing and celebrate the successes they achieve together, it isn’t necessary to find ways to connect outside of work”.