Forced Fun

Fun Frolics Final pic

No one likes forced fun. The harsh reality is that no matter how hard you try, even if you’ve organised the perfect company outing, forcing people to have fun is like nailing jelly to a wall.

The truth is that company events, and often Christmas parties, are left to HR to organise. Conversely, HR teams usually pick up the pieces when office parties are too much fun.

That leaves the big question… is HR the fun police, or are we the fun enforcers?

Forcing your colleagues to participate in boozy Christmas parties is, of course, a no-no, but it is still expected in some company cultures. In a recent news story, one man fought back after being sacked for not going out with his colleagues enough. 

The balance between creating an inclusive, fun company culture and pushing people too far is a fine line. The blockbuster film ‘Office Christmas Party’ is an extreme but amusing example of this (we highly recommend watching it but beware, it’s not a family film, and you’ll either love or hate HR Supervisor Mary)

As 2023 approaches, should we even be having conversations about HR organising the office party? Surely that’s too much of a cliché, especially now that HR has a seat at the table. Shaping a company culture and cultivating a productive team environment often falls to the HR and people teams. In larger companies, different teams and departments are more empowered to run their own events. The fact remains that the buck stops with HR and the leadership team when it comes to company culture and colleagues’ behaviour.

After a tricky couple of years and with more people adopting a hybrid working model, do people even want Christmas parties anymore?

Why don’t people want to have fun?

Getting your colleagues to agree on an office party or work event can feel like pulling teeth. Even if they decide to get together, getting a consensus on what you do can be even more difficult. People don’t seem to want to have fun anymore!

That’s not true! Your colleagues don’t object to having fun; it’s the type of fun you’re trying to foster. Remember how we all tried to make Zoom quizzes and online escape rooms happen just a few short years ago? Thankfully those days are behind us.

However, there is a definite shift in the zeitgeist. As a population, we are all becoming more homely. Going out increasingly feels like an effort that fewer colleagues are willing to make. We’re happier at home, with our family, relaxing on the sofa or in full ‘goblin mode’.

If ‘goblin mode’ is a new phrase for you, be prepared to hear it more often. It was voted as 2022’s word of the year. It is described as ‘unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, and slovenly’. Does anyone else feel seen?

How can HR create meaningful company events?

How can you entice people off their sofas or away from their home offices? The first step is to accept that you can’t please all the people all the time. Not everyone will want to do the same thing.

Ask your colleagues what they would enjoy. Smaller, shorter team or company events might work better than forcing everyone together in a ‘fun’ environment. You could even embrace some low-key spontaneous activities (optional ones!)

If you can allow creativity and playfulness to come about naturally, that’s when your teams will take the most enjoyment from an event or office party. Some of our favourite suggestions recently for office events, both festive and otherwise, include wreath making, bake-off competitions (in real bake-off style kitchens), optional online quizzes, retro game bars, and team breakfasts rather than post-work drinks. Remember, events don’t always have to centre around booze-fuelled fun. It’s often safer if they don’t!

Above all, remember not to force everyone to have fun!

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