Workers want to feel valued through team-building rather than drinks in the pub, finds JULENA DRUMI
A determined effort by firms to persuade employees to give up their home offices and head back into the workplace has taken many forms, not least through the offer of various incentives. Higher pay, redesigned offices, flexible shifts and more social gatherings – there is plenty in the mix to make the commute seem worthwhile.
Even so, new data suggests workers are not rushing back in order to mingle with their colleagues for booze-filled nights in the pub. Social events remain important, but workplace culture has experienced a fundamental change with a Gallup poll showing that only 10% of the British workforce currently feel engaged by what is on offer.
A further study by events marketplace Togather indicates that beyond remuneration and career progression, creating the right social culture holds the most weight in determining employee engagement.
And there is some concerning news here for employers. The statistics reveal that 35% of the UK workforce say the events put on by their workplace reflect exactly how valued they feel by their employers. Currently, the majority of workplaces fall into the culture of Friday night drinks and other similar social formats, but sentiments around these events are shifting, as research from the events organiser found that the same proportion find their workplace socials boring and a waste of their time.
A fifth (20%) agree that the events hosted by their place of work are not inclusive of different faiths, genders, identities or pregnant women.
Togather’s study places a need on workplace socials need to evolve past the traditional pub-trip to become cornerstones of company culture.
Spending on events within the corporate sector is expected to rise by as much as 83% in 2023, yet the question remains on how this money is being invested. Research by Just Eat for Business found that 82% of British workers demand more team-building.
Therefore, investment into corporate social events needs to not only be for fun events, but constructive, team-building activities amidst increased discourse around employee engagement and wellbeing to curate a positive and committed workforce.
Exploring how events promote relationship-building above free lunches and after-work pints, Togather’s data has found that although 20% of employees say that the traditional Thursday/Friday evening trips to the pub are the staple of their social calendar, sentiments around these gatherings are shifting.
Research from Togather reveals that 51% of Brits prioritise working for a company whose values are aligned with theirs. Alongside benefits such as inflation-linked pay-rises, mental health support and workplace flexibility, corporate events and team-building activities can play a pivotal role in supporting workplace culture and nurturing talent.
As employers incentivise a return to office working, employees are looking for genuine connection with their place of work and their peers. As found in Togather’s data, almost a quarter of Brits who work remotely (24%) would be in favour of coming into the office if their employer hosted a greater number of great social events. As hybrid working poses the risk of employees feeling disconnected from their workplaces, employee engagement is now more pertinent than ever.
With employee engagement being inherently linked to productivity – leading to a 21% increase in profitability according to Gallup’s Business Journal – Togather argues that money alone can’t buy employee loyalty as employers must now host events that genuinely reflect the value they place on their staff.
Shifting the office party away from just festive holidays, alcohol-heavy venues and beige buffets, Togather advises creating events that reflect the individuality of the team. Accounting for Britain’s diversity of faiths, dietary requirements and ethical choices, the traditional post-work drinks may now be obsolete – with the research further revealing that 18% of Brits say their workplace has a boozy culture that they and their colleagues aren’t always willing to take part in, and a further 29% agree they don’t enjoy their workplace events at all.
One way to add flair to work events is by involving unique and independent vendors, going beyond your locals to introduce employees to different offerings. This could add a new dimension to office lunches, with research from Togather showing that 62% of the workforce say they would much rather eat really tasty food at work events, rather than drink copious amounts of alcohol.
As organisations navigate the complexities of the hybrid work model, data by Togather reveals that 38% of staff say the biggest downside of remote working is that they have no relationship with their colleagues. Workplace friendships not only provide a sense of belonging but also have a direct correlation with employee satisfaction and success. This comes after a study by Officevibe which found that 70% of employees believe having friends at work is the most crucial element for a happy working life.
Despite the significance of employers nurturing office togetherness, one in three workers feel that their employer invests less in work events and parties now that they have a hybrid working model.
Togather argues that employers can create an emotionally fulfilling work environment that uplifts employee well-being, fosters collaboration and fuels organisational success.
Hugo Campbell, co-founder of Togather, says: “Workplace events have evolved way beyond get-togethers; they are now recognised as crucial for fostering a productive workforce.
“Our data shows that one in three employees would feel significantly more engaged with their workplace if social events received more investment. However, it is disheartening to discover that 35% of employees actively avoid attending their current workplace parties due to finding them dull and unproductive.
“This places the onus on business owners to create workplace events that are truly captivating and inclusive, reflecting the value they place on their employees. It is no longer sufficient to rely on beige buffets, standard holiday celebrations, or the usual Friday night trips to the pub. Instead, businesses must provide meaningful experiences that genuinely demonstrate appreciation for their staff.”