Planning an office night out on the face of it may seem like a relatively simple task. Still, with office politics, differing personalities, and widely ranging ideas of what makes a good night out, it can be a real minefield to negotiate. The trick is not to make the event too extreme for the more cautious members of the team and not too vanilla for those who like an outing to be a fair bit more exciting.
This can make for a tricky set of decisions that the organizer will need to navigate. After all, some may be expecting an alcohol-fuelled bender; others may be tee-total through choice, or for religious reasons. How to choose the food, as you also need to be aware of dietary requirements, again many of these are changeable due to religious beliefs, or even moral choices which are evidently on the rise, take the example of ethical veganism these days.
Be Sensitive to the Office Demographics
It’s essential to be sensitive to the demographics of the office. As we previously touched upon, there will be those who expect very different things from socializing in any given office. However, there may well still be trends or leanings towards one demographic or another. You may have a particularly young or old office or different office cultures; for example, a religious charity would have a very different crowd to a magazine that writes about Death Metal.
These choices are easy to achieve in the polar-opposite cases we just set out, but the reality is that few workplaces are as stereotypical as those; the typical insurance office could have pretty much anyone working there. So, the trick is not to make anything too extreme in any one direction.
Set a Budget
A night out can be costly, and if the company is paying, then ideas must be realistic. Take, for example, if you organized a masquerade ball? This may be very classy and unique, but is it just too elaborate for a simple night out? Even a typical dinner and drinks can add up, and many city bars charge eye-watering prices these days.
Work out a realistic budget per head, ask who’s going, especially if you have to book a table, so that you know how much it will cost. If there is drinking involved, be clear how much is covered by the company, and then there can be no misunderstandings after the fact. It’s probably a good idea to not pay for excessive amounts of alcoholic beverages no matter what your budget allows, as this can exacerbate small grievances and cause more significant issues.
Make it Quirky & Fun
Making something fun can be relatively easy and does not need to cost the earth. It’s good to remember that an office night out should be, in part at least, about team building and bonding. So it’s good to make everyone feel a part of it, you could order some Rush Order Tees with funny or personalized slogans on them.
Something quirky and fun, maybe karaoke, could be a real laugh and let everyone relax and have fun. It is also important to remember that not everyone is as extrovert as everyone else. Although certain ideas can be lots of fun, it is important not to make anyone feel awkward or under the impression that they must join in.
Ask for Suggestions
How can we be sure that the guys will all be happy with the choices? Well, maybe ask for opinions and suggestions? This may bring out new and novel ideas that you never thought of before, and at least it negates the impression that management is dictating what the night must involve. You’ll not necessarily keep everyone happy with this approach, but at least you are talking to the troops and keeping them in the loop.
Once you receive all the suggestions, then you can weed out those that are clearly unsuitable, and then present the rest of them to the staff to choose from. You could even set up an online voting system to determine the winning idea, this keeps it private and confidential to avoid any arguments.
Be Clear on the Rules
On any night out things can get messy, or embarrassing, or both. So, in a work environment it needs to be clear the rules and expectations. If you have a ban on office romance, then this also should apply to any work outing. If there is a finish time, as the boss, make your excuses and leave at this point as this gives workers a chance to stay out, if they like, without feeling awkward and although they will want to talk to the boss this might be better done earlier in the night.
If any incidents occur during the part of a night out that is organized by the company then they still could be covered by the company’s disciplinary code of conduct and could be liable to disciplinary procedures. If this is the case it is a good idea to ensure that all members of staff are aware of this.
What About Those Who Can’t Make It?
Not everyone will be able to make it when you organize a staff outing. One prime example is those with family or caring commitments; it is crucial that these workers do not feel stigmatized or pressured to go to something. Remember, this is supposed to be fun and not an essential business operation, so people shouldn’t think they are missing out on professional or networking opportunities.
You may also have other locations, branch operations elsewhere in the country, for example. Those who work at these smaller locations may feel that you are leaving them out if there are no provisions put in place for them; good practice in these circumstances is to provide a budget for them to organize their own alternative social event. This keeps everyone happy in the long run and prevents feelings of unfairness.