Company gatherings and office parties are often the subject of criticism and skepticism. On the one hand, there is a potential risk, and many employers express reservations over the potential for unprofessional behavior and potential legal or reputational impacts, especially when alcohol is involved.
On the other hand, the value of these events is often questioned. Office social events are often made fun of or satirized as boring displays of forced socialization. If these events provide limited value at the same time they introduce potential risk to organizations, should companies host or promote them at all?
While there are valid concerns over the potential liability of company events involving alcohol, we would argue that well-managed company social events can provide a boost to employee training and onboarding. Here are some examples of how.
One of the major benefits and purposes of company gatherings is to serve as a means of internal networking. Employees can get to know key resources from throughout the organization and develop relationships that bolster collaborative work.
This is particularly true for new employees who are often at a loss when trying to identify key staff members who might be able to provide input, resources, or a source of escalation for work the new employee is engaged in.
Forum for Informal Conversation
Additionally, company social events provide an opportunity for staff to have discussions outside of formal meetings. Employees may struggle with various aspects of their work, new processes, or unfamiliar industry knowledge.
The opportunity for informal interactions with others can open the door to important connections. Discussions with seasoned staff and even fellow trainees and new recruits can help bring greater understanding to the nuances of what they’ve been learning.
Finally, company get-togethers help immerse new staff members in the company culture. They get more exposure to how employees interact with coworkers, superiors, and subordinates; they also get a flavor for the current key areas of importance and relevance within the company based on conversations with other staff.
Company events can create the potential for bad behavior, but this shouldn’t be prohibitively difficult for companies to manage. And while work “parties” may not live up to that name in the traditional meaning of the word, they can provide value, in particular, by helping to improve employee training and onboarding.