Socialising with fellow workers out of the office comes with its many pro’s and con’s. Happy hour after work with the whole department. Alex from HR is your new gym buddy every morning before the big nine to five grind. If accepted, you may risk complicating your professional relationship. Of course, if you decline, you may come off as stand-offish and not interested in getting to know your colleagues.
The obvious benefit is that you’ll build a stronger relationship with that person. Bonding over a similar interest or experience together helps build respect, trust and loyalty. Reciprocated good behaviour is common amongst friends and is also valuable in the workplace. It also means that office introverts might find socialising outside the office a more comfortable scenario. This is especially important in modern diverse work environments where there may have been unnoticed skills or talents from one of the more “quieter” employees. A social interaction may allow you to encourage them to contribute to the organisation at a higher level. Chatting about work around the dinner table or sporting field will also help with keeping up to date on office activity and current projects. Valuing your co-workers will in turn allow increased employee engagement.
Of course their are potential liability issues. If alcohol is involved, it leaves room for lapses in judgement and lowered inhibitions. Negative office talk may hinder the cohesiveness and eventual productivity of the team. The last thing you want to do is involve yourself in office politics, or be exposed to inappropriate behaviour. Perhaps the most obvious drawback is employees not getting along. Its natural for everyone to not always see eye to eye, but ensuring mutual respect goes along way.
So if you decide to join in on your office’s next social event, acknowledge the pros and cons. Its great to build relationships and get to know your colleagues. Having said that, as popular as after work drinks are, it’s sometimes best to resort to other activities of a sober nature.