Christmas is just around the corner – and as the tinsel, fairy lights, and loud festive jumpers come out to play, companies are getting into the spirit of things as well, organising various holiday-themed events to keep their employees merry and bright.
Of course, December isn't the only month during which this happens. Social events (or "forced fun", to use a less attractive term) have become a staple in most offices – be it pub quiz nights or archery tag sessions (yes, that is a thing). The thought behind them is straightforward: a close-knit office is a happy office, and a happy office helps both keep and attract talent.
The research certainly seems to back this: happy workers have been found to be 12% more productive than grouchier teams, while 57% of employees say having a best friend in the office makes work life in general more enjoyable. But for all the effort companies put into these events, how big a deciding factor are they in a job seeker's search? We put down our mince pies to do some investigating.
Putting the "fun" in work function
Our process was simple. Over the last week, we've asked every jobseeker we've contacted (and that's quite a few, even with the December dip!) whether the social aspect of a company impacted their decision in accepting a role. Out of our respondents, an overwhelming 73% felt positively about social events.
One job seeker says she loves such events, and actively attempts to attend them all. Another echoed this enthusiasm, adding that he'd need to feel welcome and included in any team he joins – and social events help reinforce that. Some applicants shared that they particularly enjoyed how these events helped them navigate office relationships during work hours as well.
"They allow you to know the people around you better and understand what makes them tick, which makes everyone's job easier! You can't be dictatorial and bark orders at people – being friends with them makes communication much easier." An applicant
However, not all respondents felt the same, with 18% of them claiming they were indifferent to office socials – and 9% saying they don't care for them at all.
"I'm used to working from home. When I'm at an office, I'd rather just finish up my work and leave." An applicant
In fact, despite the overall enthusiasm displayed towards office events, only 27% of jobseekers stated that it would be a contributing factor into their decision to accept or reject an offer.
All that glitters is not gold (though gold still matters quite a bit)
But what could be the reason for office culture's lack of (initial) sway? Well, for one, salary still reigns supreme; jobseekers consistently rank compensation as the most important factor in their searches – even above the specifics of the job itself.
Also outranking office culture, particularly among millennials, is work-life balance. A study conducted by YouGov revealed millennials place serious consideration into how a new position will impact their free time before accepting it, meaning after-hour events may not be viewed so favourably by jobseekers hoping to maintain their personal life.
Another potential reason could be that it's hard to look forward to – or even truly think about – office activities with colleagues one hasn't even met yet. Without first-hand exposure to the people who'll make you love (or loathe) coming into work every day, it could be tough to decide how someone will respond to social events that bring them into even closer proximity. Plus, not everyone you employ will be an extrovert, and different personalities will prefer different types of socialising.
Ultimately, office socials may not be deal-makers, but they can certainly be deal-breakers. Because of how a tight office culture can positively impact the people in your workforce, it's still as important as ever that companies invest time, thought, and money into events and social activities. A fortnightly karaoke session may not bring people into your office – but the relationships it helps foster will potentially keep them there.*