As a consultant I would go to an assignment for 6 months or longer. I would make friendships with the people I worked with, either on the project team, or employees of the client I was working with. One of the hardest parts of being a consultant was leaving the people I worked with and had built relationships with. I'm not very good at staying in touch with people. so I have lost many friends over the years.
So, when I started to consider becoming a full time employee, one of the aspects that went in the Pro's column was the fact that I could build lasting relationships with my co-workers. So, my question is, is there a social aspect to work? And if there is, how important is it?
The other day we went to a meeting for work which covered a survey the employees had taken last year about their impressions of the work environment. You know the kind of survey that asks questions like, "Rate the Following from 1 to 10, 1 being Strongly Disagree and 10 being Strongly Agree. Question 1. I enjoy coming to work every day." etc...
I was not involved in this survey because it was taken before I became an employee. However, it was surprising that the three answers with the worst rating revolved around social relationships at work. The worst score on the survey was "I have a friend at work"!
Last week my manager, in his weekly team meetings, asked if we would like to do team social activities. I was attending the meeting by phone and wasn't in the room, so I just listened in to the answers that the others gave. I was shocked when one team member said, "I work with you guys all day long, I don't want to see you after work"!
Here I am, coming off the road after 11 years and really looking forward to socializing with my colleagues outside of work, and this person was bad-mouthing the idea! I have noticed over the last 3 months a pattern with this particular person in that he doesn't really volunteer or pitch in to help unless asked specifically. So, there may be a connection between the amount of social interaction an employee has with his colleagues and the attitude of being a team player.
For my part I want social interaction with those I work with. I don't necessarily mean I want to be best friends with someone at work. And I don't mean that I want to spend every night drinking with them at the bar (I don't drink alcohol, by the way, but that seems to be a favorite social activity for many people.) However, I think it would help promote a better team spirit if once a month or so we went out as a team to dinner, or if we ate lunch away from our desks together every week or every other week. And I certainly wouldn't mind some sort of family activity during the year, like a picnic in the summer.
I feel that when a team of co-workers socialize with each other outside of work, it helps to build a camaraderie between them. Social interaction seems to foster a sense of team spirit and helps team members work together better. I believe that if a team socializes together it could even help increase the productivity of the team and the individual employees.
What are your thoughts?