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Is your company too fun?

Eden scott
Big news from France: being 'fun' at work is no longer a legal requirement. 

A French worker successfully sued his former employer after he was let go for failing to take part in 'fun' after-work events and team-building exercises. 

In recent years, much effort has gone into building positive workplace cultures. That often manifests in activities intended to benefit the team, like meals out, office parties and team bonding workshops. 

And while this sounds great in theory, some employees might find too much fun a little wearing.

Employees who feel obliged to participate in 'fun' activities are likely to find them less enjoyable.

Reasons employees might not want to participate in 'fun' activities 

  • They are too busy
If an employee has a heavy workload, is working to a deadline, or feels pressured to deliver, they might find taking extra time away from their desks stressful. 

Team lunches or bonding activities during the day could eat into their schedules, causing an anxiety-inducing lapse in productivity.
  • They have family obligations 
Employees might need to look after children, care for unwell or elderly relatives, or be there for their partners. 

They'll want to prioritise these important responsibilities over spending more time at work.
  • They don't want to mix professional and personal life 
It's nothing personal: sometimes, employees just don't want to spend time with their colleagues outside of work. Nor do they want to spend unpaid time participating in work-related activities. 

Maintaining distinct work/life boundaries can be very positive and can lead to happier and more productive employees.

None of these reasons for not engaging in 'fun' activities make employees unfriendly or poor team players.

There's nothing wrong with being with someone who shows up, does a good job and leaves on time - and employees shouldn't be made to feel otherwise.

Not-so-fun events 

Worried you might be forcing fun on your team? Here are some activities you might want to steer clear of.
  • Events that centre around drinking
A lot of people in the UK don't drink alcohol - for some age groups, it's as much as 25%. That could be for religious reasons, health reasons, or because they simply don't enjoy the experience. 

Regardless of the reason, if an event is centred around alcohol, it could be quite an unpleasant experience for those who don't drink. 

When alcohol is involved, it is also important to be conscious of professional boundaries. Some people worry that they won't be able to maintain professional behaviour when alcohol is thrown into the mix. 
  • Events that take place outside of work hours 
After a tough day at work, the last thing most of us want to do is spend more time with our colleagues. Yet, in some companies, that's exactly what's expected. 

Some employees might grow tired of attending post-work events when they'd much rather be snuggled up on the sofa or spending time with their real family, not their work one.
  • Corporate team building sessions 
While corporate team building sessions can be great ice breakers and help to improve collaboration, done wrong, they can also feel a bit pointless.

Why drag employees away from important tasks to spend four hours to 'introduce themselves' to  people they already work with? (A real example from an Edinburgh company that will remain nameless!)
  • Away days or holidays 
Being taken on an all-expenses paid holiday sounds great in principle… until you realise you’re on holiday with your colleagues.

For some people, that's the dream. For others, it’s the stuff of nightmares.

Don’t stop hosting fun activities 

Don't get us wrong, all of these activities are well-intentioned, and they all have their place within a positive team engagement strategy. 

Rather than putting a halt to fun activities, it's worth reflecting on whether they're doing what they're supposed to: making your team feel valued and rewarded. 

Fun activities should feel genuinely fun, and not like an extra piece of work.

The solution?

When it comes to hosting team activities, follow these two steps:  
  • Make it genuinely optional
Even if attending an event is optional, peer pressure and raised eyebrows can make employees feel like they have to attend activities outside of work.

Instead, when you do put on fun events, make them genuinely optional both in words and in practice, with no negative consequences for not showing up.
  • Focus on the perks that employees actually want in 2023
If, after some consideration, you find that certain events aren't enjoyable for your team, then divert your time and budget to the benefits that employees really want.

Take a look at the most popular employee benefits in 2023. 

Next steps

Need support putting together an attractive package for candidates? Get in touch with the team at Eden Scott.


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