Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

5 tips for improving social events at work

Reinvigorate team-building at your organization

If drinks after work is the go-to social activity for your office, it might be time for a new approach to team building.

In 2016, Sheryl Hansen, manager of NAIT’s organizational development services, was part of an effort to revive the social committee in human resources. The group she participated in knew that creating stronger social connections among staff members would not only increase engagement and performance, but also had the potential to improve individual well-being.

Together, they developed a new way to organize fun events to appeal to and include everyone. So far, Hansen is happy with the results. “Our group enjoys the opportunity to spend time with each other in new ways and stronger relationships have been sparked,” she says.

Cheers to that. Here’s how, with the right approach, any office can create a social committee that will benefit organizations and individuals alike.

Involve the right people

Hansen recommends social committee members volunteer – not be voluntold. This may mean that not all areas of the office are represented, but that’s OK. “You want people who are passionate and who will continue to bring their ideas and energy to the group,” she says.

“You want people who are passionate."

Appoint a chair and have the position rotate each year or season. Ensure that participation on the committee is not onerous. Focus on activities that are simple to coordinate, says Hansen.

Decide on your principles

Decide on common values for the group before planning events. You don’t need a formal document, says Hansen, but something should be in place to guide decisions.

Hansen’s group, for example, wanted to try to cover several dimensions of wellness with their activities. They also made sure the 5 Languages of Appreciation, designed to help build healthy workplaces, were reflected in their events.

Finally, the group captured all of these criteria in a planning template. This is a checklist that helped them evaluate their choice of activities, making sure each one aligned with the values they agreed upon.

Create unique experiences

Food and drinks after work isn’t a bad thing – just make sure it’s only one of several different activities enjoyed by the group. For example, consider trying things such as

  • Community service – volunteer or raise money for a cause that has meaning for your group
  • Get active – organize opportunities for people to socialize while keeping fit, such a weekly lunchtime walk
  • Show appreciation – introduce small ways to recognize each other. Keep a collection of inexpensive items on hand so that everyone can creatively acknowledge and thank their colleagues
     

Food and drinks after work isn’t a bad thing – just make sure it’s only one of several different activities.

Use the web

Some activities can bring people together without them even having to leave their desks. During the 2017 United Way campaign, for example, Hansen and her group organized an online bingo game that was fun and raised money.

Hansen has also made use of online group communications tools, such as Yammer, where staff can find out about upcoming events, show appreciation and celebrate accomplishments. Committee members regularly post fun topics of conversation designed to help staff get to know each other better.

Make it easy to participate

To boost participation, Hansen says a committee needs to plan for convenience – all people should have to do is “just show up.” That means the activities

  • should not infringe on personal time (after work or on weekends)
  • be held onsite
  • cost very little or nothing

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