ANNE-MARIE DOLAN HR Leader, Australian Human Resources Institute
IT is always a good idea to attend social events when you can as it enables you to get to know colleagues in a more informal environment and shows you have a connection to the organisation beyond your role. Saying that, some organisations have a very busy social calendar, which can intrude on personal time and commitments. When there are too many social activities, be selective in which ones you attend. Choose those that are most appealing to you and suit your own schedule. For example, if you have a young family, you may choose family day events rather than evening functions. UNDER these circumstances, honesty will always be the best policy. Be upfront with your manager about how you like to spend your out of work hours. Prioritise which work social functions you should be at and de-prioritise those that aren’t as necessary. Think about who you may potentially network with or whether the gathering is a good opportunity to spend quality time with co-workers. Be sincere if you choose not to attend certain events. Be fair to colleagues who really do want to be at these gatherings and remember everyone’s priorities are different when it comes to their social lives. MOST employers are pretty understanding when it comes to juggling family commitments with work social events normally aligned with some form of client entertainment. Clients too are under similar pressures when it comes to their time. If your role involves a significant number of events each year, you may want to develop decision-making principles on whether or not to accept. For example, you may decide to only accept invitations to breakfast events and one or two weekend events per quarter. It demonstrates you are a willing participant but have also placed boundaries on your time. WORKsocial events are discretionary attendance generally, so what constitutes ‘‘ too many’’ will be an individual matter. Assess why you should or would like to attend these events and the positives or negatives that can result. Think of the annual calendar of events and decide in advance the ones that are higher priority. Work around these, politely accepting or declining depending on the ebb and flow of other commitments. Courtesy, manners and pre-warning of attendance or apologies will go a long way to managing others understanding of competing time demands or needs.