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Mandatory Fun and Other Faux Pas


July 19, 2023

Mandatory Fun and Other Faux Pas

Is your party planning committee already discussing ugly sweater contests and company picnics? In recent years, there’s been a lot of discussion about how “forced fun” events at work can actually harm morale. People’s priorities have shifted with the pandemic. Many people prefer to spend time with their friends and family than grab a drink with the team after work. Don’t let your organization hurt your team culture with mandatory fun or other faux pas.

Birthday Cupcakes

“Everyone, gather around Sheila's desk to sing” can feel like a nightmare to some folks. Maybe Sheila has diabetes or is a massive introvert. It seems fun to break up the monotony of daily work, but the result is often more than a little awkward. Companies mean well with these celebrations to recognize employees and build connections.

Instead, Marketplace suggests “do-it-yourself” coffee/tea stations as an alternative. Socialization happens naturally in these areas. The DIY version builds in autonomy as people drift in and out to make tea on their own time. Include treats once a month to recognize birthdays in a self-serve model.

Happy Hour

What could be more fun than Topgolf with the team after work? For many employees, just about anything. For the less athletically inclined, it’s embarrassing and stressful. For parents of small children, it’s also expensive to factor in additional childcare for the misery.

Company-organized events with alcohol can also exclude a lot of people who don’t drink as recovering alcoholics or for health or religious reasons. Recent estimates suggest 30% of Americans do not drink alcohol, so this could be a sizable chunk of your team.

Instead, what about offering employees one-on-one or small-group lunches with the boss from time to time?

Zoom Bingo

With the rise of remote and hybrid work environments, businesses have switched to virtual engagement events like Zoom trivia. On the surface these can fill a socialization void. But Experts recommend NOT making these events mandatory. People should feel free to engage, or not, on their own schedules.

Extravagant Perks

Businesses tried to attract and retain employees by offering on-site massages, parties, or even retreats at lavish locations. With the threat of recession on the horizon, many of these nearly useless “perks” have thankfully fallen by the wayside.

Younger employees, in particular, insist on creating boundaries between their work lives and their social lives. They don't want to stick around after hours to schmooze or feel like they have to make up hours for a midday chair massage.

Instead, consider offering employees extended breaks or paid time off to volunteer for a cause they support.

The Real Secret to Engagement

At the end of the day, your employees don’t feel invested in a drawing for a set of golf clubs. True employee buy-in comes from a company culture that honors employees and their lives outside of work.

If you bake those attributes into your business, you won’t need to worry about why the entire accounting team skipped the ice cream social. If you’ve laid a solid foundation, you can feel confident they’re hard at work furthering the company mission.


We at the Chamber would never mandate you attend any of our networking and Chamber events. But we invite you to attend as your schedule and interests permit.  😉 Check them out on our new and improved website!












potential shining stars on your team? When you bring in candidates, do you use an interview structure that ensures all candidates have the same questions? Do they all talk to the same team members?

Watch Your Language

The way you talk about your work matters. LinkedIn developed an inclusive language pocket guide to help businesses update their language so that nobody feels left out unnecessarily. For example, businesses can easily switch references from “salesmen” to “sales team” or “sales reps.” (Google will offer to autocorrect that for you.) The guide also looks at more subtle uses of language, like “blacklisted,” when you really meant “denied” or “blocked.”

Connect with Community

Building relationships with community groups who focus on diverse identities can help you build up your pool of potential employees. Look for local organizations that focus on women or BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color) and build a relationship with them. Attend their diversity-focused conferences or virtual events.

Hire An Expert

Once you establish the importance of improvising DEI in your workplace, where do you begin? Fortunately, lots of great resources exist to help!

Google has put together a free online resource: a toolkit for Building Inclusive Teams. You’ll find everything from how-to videos to suggestions for where to look for candidates.

Locally, the Westmoreland Diversity Coalition can provide general information about best practices. They can also bring a consultant to your workplace to talk about ways your specific business can make changes.

Diversity means more than just gender identity or skin color. Western Pennsylvania communities include people of all physical abilities, religions, ethnicities, ages, financial backgrounds, and more. For the future success of your business and the region itself, we invite you to build a place for everyone at your table.


The Chamber holds a number of lunch-and-learn workshops and seminars throughout the year and has recently established a DEI Committee. To register for an upcoming event or learn more, visit our website.




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