How does being social affect your work environment?
Social interactions with friends and family have long been considered important to individual emotional health. It’s been found that people are happier when they are part of a group and have others to rely on for comfort and support. Additionally, recent studies suggest that social connections help prevent physical ailments and disease. But what about at work?
Are the social-butterflies of your office treated as if they can do no wrong? Are there co-workers on the outside of your team’s inside jokes? Does your team spend almost as much time together outside the office as they do during the workweek?
Making a Social Agenda
Whatever the case, and regardless of your personal preference, having a social agenda for the office is important. Teams need to build strong relationships. And since not all employees can meet after work, it is important that social interaction is supported during work hours.
After-work gatherings among co-workers should be encouraged, but that should not be the only opportunity for team-building. Community service projects, company meetings, and sponsored activities should be done on the clock and open to all employees. Many companies coordinate service days where employees are paid to volunteer for community enrichment projects such as building a house, cleaning up a park, or serving food to the homeless.
Hosting retirement parties for employees is another great way for teams to strengthen relationships, while providing team members the opportunity to send off valued co-workers. But, again, companies should host these parties during the workday. This way, all employees have the opportunity to attend, and those with after-work commitments will not be left out.
Company meetings can also have a social aspect to them. Providing time before and after the meetings to mingle, enjoy food, and further discuss meeting topics can be very beneficial for employees. This is especially true for employees from different departments–who otherwise might not have the opportunity to build relationships through informal conversations.
Drawing Lines and Workplace Favoritism
Of course, some lines must be drawn for social interaction. One instance is during company travel. Teams that are going to conventions or seminars should not be forced to room together. Employees need privacy and downtime, and so it is important to avoid grouping members into the same hotel room just to save a few dollars.
One final consideration in discussing social interactions at work is the potential for favoritism. All companies–large and small–should avoid giving preferential treatment to employees simply because they are the most sociable. For example: Just because everyone likes “Joe”, doesn’t mean that he should always be asked to join special teams or attend sporting events in the company suite. Joe may be likable and extremely social, but it is important that employees are rewarded based on merit, and that favoritism does not become a part of office culture.
Organizations can hire for sociability using behavioral assessments as part of their hiring process. This provides another indicator for how a job candidate will likely fit and contribute to your company culture. To learn more about pre-employment assessments and other hiring solutions, contact ExactHire today!