• Leah Norman

Organising Social Events for Employees

You're invited (But BYO Party)

It is almost undisputed that the majority of New Zealand workers are spending more of their time at the workplace. It is therefore unsurprising that employees and employers are becoming more concerned with the quality of the time that employees spend at work and the relationships they have with their co-workers.

As a result, there has been an increased focus by employers on establishing a positive “workplace culture” through employer-sponsored social events and team-building activities that are intended to boost employee morale and increase overall productivity.

These social events can vary to a large degree depending on the size and the nature of the employer’s business. It can be something small, such as buying an employee a cake on their birthday, or can be on the larger scale, such as shutting the office down for half the day to take the employees to a long lunch, all common at this time of the year as we enter the "festive" season.

Irrespective of what the occasion may be, employers should consider very carefully the real purpose for organising a work social event/activity and whether it adequately addresses the issues that their employees are facing, as not all attempts to address low morale or other issues are guaranteed to be well received by your workforce.

It is common for many businesses to have, say a quarterly, social activity arranged by their own staff, or potentially the social club. Often the suggestions put forward are for for activities such as morning tea, birthday celebrations, Christmas drinks, quarterly lunches, fitness activities or pizza events on Fridays etc. The catch is that, more often than not, employees are expected to do these activities in their own time (i.e. during morning tea, lunch breaks or after work) and the activities are to be paid for by the staff themselves.

One of the concerns raised that can be raised by this requirement is that often the nature, intensity and high pressure of many work environments means that employees already have close enough working relationships that there is no need for them to be directed to socialise together outside of work, at their own expense.

Practically speaking, we acknowledge that as an employer it is not always possible to devote significant business time and financial resources to social events for you employees. There are many factors to consider, such as the industry you work in, the risk of liability for employee activities outside of work, and where the funds are actually sourced from. In these circumstances, smaller gestures may be more reasonable, such as daily team catch-ups or allowing employees to finish work a little bit earlier on a Friday (if there is no urgent work to be done) with the option of staying for some team socialising.

In our experience, much of the resistance to these types of changes can be avoided if employees are involved in the decision-making process. This does not always mean granting every request for a party, but it encourages employees to make reasonable suggestions on how to resolve these issues and allows employers to be honest and open about the reasonableness of any proposed solutions. A Social Club, (if you don't already have one), can also give employees a platform to make suggestions and discuss best approaches.


This article, and any information contained on our website is necessarily brief and general in nature, and should not be substituted for professional advice. Yellow Consulting does not accept liability for any loss or damage arising from reliance on the content of this blog, or from links on this website to any external website. You should always seek professional advice before taking any action in relation to the matters addressed.

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