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While the term “Social Committee” might make you recall cringe-worthy scenes from the show The Office (or even provoke eye-rolls amongst more cynical colleagues), there are good reasons to ignore the doubters and start one anyways. Why? Having fun with colleagues builds stronger teams, breaks up monotony, increases employee engagement, boosts collaboration and innovation, and generally ups your “feel-good” factor as an organization.

Bottom line: if building a positive company culture and strengthening your employer brand is your aim, forming a social committee is a great step in the right direction.

But before you go off booking mandatory bowling trips and arranging pizza parties, we’ve learned a few things from experience! This isn’t our first party planning committee rodeo, and there are a few key considerations we’ve learned that you might want to keep in mind:

Get management buy-in. Before you go formalizing any kind of committee, get agreement from company decision-makers, and if you’re not responsible for HR in your organization, make sure HR is on board. Having a management team sponsor as a committee member can be incredibly helpful to make sure things actually happen when you’re getting up and running. Word of caution: if you do have a management sponsor, make sure they participate without taking over!

What’s in a name? A lot, as it turns out, when it comes to employee perception. Calling it a “Social Committee” might not work for your organization, and that’s totally okay! Name your group whatever fits best with the tone and culture of your organization. Whether you’re the “Social Squad” the “Party Planning Committee” or something entirely different, make it item one on your new committee’s agenda to identify a title that resonates.

Know what you’re working with. Before you start planning any kind of company-sponsored activity, you need to know what kind of resources you’ll have at your disposal. Brainstorming sessions are more productive when you know whether you’re in multi-day corporate retreat or potluck lunch territory budget-wise. This also helps manage “champagne tastes on a beer budget” expectations!

Start small. Especially if you do have a decent budget to work with, it can be tempting to want to start off with a bang and plan a big event to kick things off. If possible, hold off until month two or three: it’s wise to work out some of the kinks first. Start small by leaving treats on everyone’s desks on a Monday, hosting a holiday office decorating contest, or participating in a fundraising walk as a team. It all counts, and the effects of small team-building initiatives are cumulative!

Keep it on the clock. Especially initially, if you plan extracurricular team events on evenings or weekends, you risk low participation which can sour the whole experience. To encourage as many people as possible to take part, keep your first events on the clock. Though it might seem counterintuitive, gifting employees with some “fun” time will pay off in the long run! Trust us – your team will notice and appreciate these little gestures of generosity that show your appreciation (Plus, how productive are people really being late on a Friday afternoon?)

Solicit input and tailor your efforts. While googling “social committee events” might yield some worthwhile ideas to get you started, your efforts will have a bigger impact if you solicit input from your team. As with any changes affecting your people, getting feedback is key! Send out a quick survey letting people know that you’re kicking off some formalized fun and request their ideas. After all, you want your initiatives to resonate, so ask your team members what they want to see!

Your Engaged HR Assignment:

Thinking about creating a “social committee” but need an extra push to make it happen? Now’s the time – and we promise you won’t regret it. Carve out five minutes today and send out an email to feel out who in your organization is interested in promoting officially-sanctioned fun. We’re betting you may be pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm!

Rather outsource your social committee efforts? We’ve built up a good stock of tools, templates and strategies for getting buy in… If you want our two cents, we’re always more than happy to share our expert opinions on creating fun at work!

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