My name is Kate and I am what I like to call one of the ‘anti-social employees’.
I love the people I work with; I would consider them work friends – I would sometimes do activities with them outside of working hours. I do not consider them family.
There is a huge focus on work being a social environment, especially in recruitment. Friday beers, team-building exercises, yearly trips skiing/to Ibiza or Dubai, family fun days, bowling, cinema trips, lunches…the list is endless!
I have worked in cultures where there is almost a cult-like ‘we are a family’ ethos, that became toxic for me personally, and didn’t end well. There was a constant pressure to be sociable with colleagues outside of work – it was an expectation – and one which was not discussed in the interview.
I have nothing against people who choose to be social and hang out with their colleagues outside of work, but I think it should be a personal choice. If your personal choice is that you don’t want to be involved in those activities outside of work, nobody has the right to question that!
Things an employer should consider:
An anti-social employee is not necessarily a disengaged employee
Just because someone doesn’t want to neck 10 Stella’s and have a press-up competition with you in All Bar One on a Thursday night, it doesn’t mean they are looking for a new job. There are lots of reasons people may choose not to join – they have responsibilities outside of work, or they don’t drink, or they simply just like to separate their work and home life.
Have a candid conversation
Manager: “We are going to Ibiza this summer because we’ve smashed target, you in?”
Employee “No thanks”
Manager: “Err why not, everyone is going, it’s a free holiday mate, what’s wrong with you?”
This is not a candid conversation, it’s an aggressive one that generally makes someone feel put on the spot and bloody uncomfortable. If you are concerned about the reason that someone isn’t getting involved in activities, why not sit them down and have an informal chat, show compassion and have an open and respectful conversation.
Make incentives inclusive
When putting ideas together for incentives, consider other people’s opinions. Don’t assume everyone wants to go on holiday or go out for a big celebratory meal. It’s good to offer alternatives to make sure everyone is incentivised.
Team holiday to Ibiza? If you don’t fancy it, you can have a holiday voucher to use at your discretion.
Fancy team night out? Or a voucher for your favourite restaurant for you and a partner/friend.
By offering alternatives, you may actually be surprised how many people take up the alternative offer – and has increased productivity as a result of the incentive option.
If someone doesn’t want to come on your trip, don’t publicly call them out and make them feel like a weirdo for not hanging out with you.
Of course, there is always the chance you are all dicks and that person hates you…but that’s unlikely.
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