Warmer weather brings workplace events

Photo : Photographee.eu / Shutterstock
Photo : Photographee.eu / Shutterstock

As the weather warms up, it’s the perfect time for office celebrations like birthdays, anniversaries and wedding showers, but employees should keep their wallets handy, a 2015 OfficeTeam survey suggests.

More than half (54 percent) of senior managers interviewed said employees are asked to contribute money for celebrations – such as birthdays, anniversaries and baby showers – at least once a year.

Managers were asked, “On average, how often are employees at your firm asked to contribute money to pay for staff celebrations or events?” While some said never, other bosses said once a month (6 percent), once a quarter (17 percent) and once or twice a year (31 percent).

Luckily, for those bosses, most workers are generous: 51 percent of employees stated they are OK with chipping in occasionally, and a quarter (25 percent) have no hesitation because they consider it a good cause.

However, one in six employees (16 percent) find the practice annoying (the rest didn’t give an answer).

“Most employees don’t mind chipping in to celebrate coworkers’ milestones, but the requests should be made in moderation,” said Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam.

“While no one wants to look like a party pooper for not participating, being asked to contribute too often can become a burden and takes the fun out of events.”

He offers some do’s and don’ts when asking coworkers to pitch in for office parties:

  • DON’T Ask everyone to chip in.
  • DO Reach out to those who are closest to the person being recognized. A new employee or someone who doesn’t work directly with the individual may feel awkward participating.
  • DON’T Make it mandatory.
  • DO Be clear that contributions are voluntary. Some staff may choose to lend a hand in other ways, such as helping to plan or decorate.
  • DON’T Set a required dollar amount.
  • DO Invite employees to donate whatever they are comfortable with.
  • DON’T Put others on the spot.
  • DO Send an email and circulate an envelope for anonymous contributions instead of reaching out to each colleague individually.
  • DON’T Overdo it with the requests.
  • DO Combine multiple occasions into monthly or quarterly office parties. This limits how often workers are asked to donate money, and your company may even help cover the costs.

Tips for summer social events

In addition to workplace events, the warmer weather signals the start of spring and summer social events.

While job-hunting isn’t usually the first thing most people think about when planning which parties to attend, this is actually a great time of year to meet lots of people and make connections that could lead to a new career.

Of course, you can’t stand by the food table and hand out your business card to everyone who approaches. Like any other time of year, networking is best done casually.

Use spring and summer events as a chance to get to know people informally and establish a relationship with them.

“It’s not about passing out business cards,” said networking expert Shawne Duperon. “Most of those cards end up in the garbage with no follow up.”

Instead, said Shawne, “networking is about creating deep relationships, unmasking your authentic self and catapulting word of mouth.”

To successfully network, here are some of her tips for being the type of person that other people want to connect with:

  • Don’t be picky at an event. Talk to everyone. You may find a delightful business relationship you never expected.
  • Don’t have pockets? Don’t wear that outfit. You need pockets. One pocket for your business cards, the other for your potential leads.
  • At your next networking event, go up and meet five new people just for the fun of it. No agenda, just for fun.
  • When meeting people while at events, ask them lots of questions. Then really listen.
  • Ask for their business cards, rather than passing out yours.

She also recommends “choose your networks and your events wisely. There is only so much time in the day and you want to get the biggest networking bang for your buck.”

Finally, Shawne said, “Networking with a lot of folks you don’t know? Don’t drink. You want to find people you want to create relationships with. Your judgment is off when you drink.”

If that’s too difficult to do at social events, at least try to limit the alcohol. Remember that while one drink may help you loosen up, drinking too much make you unforgettable — but not in a good way!

Tag Goulet is co-founder of FabJob.com and Academic Director of the International Association of Professions Career College which offers certificates for dream careers online at www.iapcollege.com.