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Should you be criticized for not mingling with co-workers?

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Question: “It was suggested during my performance review that I don’t attend enough office social events like happy hours or volunteer days, and that I keep to myself too much in general. Is this a valid criticism, or is my employer overstepping the bounds of how I should be judged at work?”    – Christopher H., Facilities Assistant

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Billia April 4, 2014 at 8:23 pm

Lol so much petty drama. Social events are optional and for those who are inverts (like myself) we tend to keep to ourselves. The reason why we keep to ourselves is not because we are anti-social, we just like to avoid all the **** that people have a tendency to bring or may even, big crowds might be a turn off. I can see on the other hand though that the employeer wants an employee to become more ‘engaged’ with the job, but it’s not a requirement. Social events are just that, their social-events. Their ‘time-off’ events where others chat with other workers and such. Unless your position is a position that requires it, I wouldn’t think much about it. On the other hand, social-events can be used to possibly connect to other people. You don’t have to attend every-single event though, as we all have a life outside the office.

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Diane December 13, 2012 at 7:47 am

I am an introvert too and I don’t go to any of the work social events that I consider to be on my time, whether they be after hours or during the day, like a lunch, that isn’t a working lunch. I feel awkward and drained in groups and I need time alone. I know that I’ve been criticized for being antisocial, but I will take the criticism.
Everyone is social in his or her own way. I find this lack of understanding of people who are introverts or how choose to be private as a lack of respect for those people as individuals and as a lack of respect for diversity.

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Maggie November 9, 2012 at 9:16 am

well said.
while I dont beleive your work performance should be judged on your availability for social activities, we are all humans and inherently rely on social bonds to advance. synergy. And to beleive a company should pay you to socialize is pretty Scroogey of you. That being said, to each their own.
I wonder though… do you have fun at work and with your colleagues, or do you just go throught the motions for a paycheck?
engage, have fun, people base 60% of their reasons for promoting or hiring based on social skills and the work day goes faster when you have fun. not rocket science.

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NonAdmin August 6, 2012 at 8:17 am

I have to say that, for me at least, I know that there is pretty much no opportunity for advancement or any other such benefit for me so I don’t feel that there is any benefit or that I should have to spend my own personal unpaid time at these functions. Our organization doesn’t give raises, promotions or any other such very often so many of us have really become soured on such experiences. It is nice to get to know the staff that are not in our area but to me those experiences could easily take place during business hours! And before anyone goes back to the should check before you take a job statement – I was led to believe that those things were possible before I started. Now 12+ years later I’ve moved departments but never been given a performance based raise – only cost of living and twice for taking on more work because they felt they had to – and now feel that I can’t find a position paying this well with this good of benefits in our area. So, yes that is a plus but still…

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Mary Ellen August 5, 2012 at 9:35 pm

I can certainly understand why some folks feel this way, but I’ll be the voice of dissent here.

If you never participate in social activities with your coworkers, you are seriously limiting your career options. Those kinds of connections are how people find out about opportunities for promotion, cool projects, etc. Someone who thinks they shouldn’t have to socialize with their coworkers unless they are paid to is probably not going to bother networking with other professionals either, I’m assuming — which only compounds the problem.

That said, expectations about level of socialization outside of the office vary so widely that I think it’s important to examine this part of the culture before you even take a job. Chances are you can find a good fit that matches your lifestyle.

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Gloria June 29, 2012 at 8:35 am

No, it is not a fair comment because you do have a life outside of the office. I went through this myself. My response was “reschedule the events during working hours. Then, I’ll attend. I’m here all day. Why should I take more time away from my family, my other job, whatever it is, to spend with co-workers? The same way you don’t want anything to interfere with my working days, my other responsibilities, whatever they may be, don’t want any interference from work. If I’m late for that, then I can be late for work. If I miss what I need to do after work, then I have to miss work the next day to make up for it. It’s that simple.” They of course didn’t reschedule. On top of that, I also had a long commute home with a sickly mother to care for. We’re here in the office anywhere from 8+ hours a day. How many hours do we get to spend with our family? We spend more time at work than we do with our family. There needs to be balance. Even if your single, you have other responsibilities you need to take care of that they don’t need to know. You have a life. That’s disrespectful on their part. If you’re an FA or in another sales position, I can see why networking is very important. You have to make time for that because that’s where your money is, in prospecting and partnering with other people to bring you more business. I’m very aware socializing at company events is important for career success; but, its important to respect people’s differences and needs. The ones who always attended, from what I found, did not have that strongest families and ended up divorced. Their values were far different from mine.

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Glenda June 29, 2012 at 7:45 am

I actually have an “out” that most of my co-workers do not have. I live a little over an hour away from the office so no one questions my not attending functions after hours or on weekends. I am very close to several of my co-workers and we have a great working relationship but I have no desire to socialize with them on my own time. At the office I am one of the first to jump in and help when needed but don’t count on me after hours. I may attend a bridal shower or wedding, funeral, visit someone if they are in the hospital but those are all things I choose to do. I think after 18 years they know it is just not my thing to attend functions on my own time and I can’t think of any time when it has been created a problem.

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Jet June 28, 2012 at 11:55 pm

I agree with those who have stated that unless the company is paying you for the time spent socializing or volunteering, it’s none of their business and has nothing to do with your performance evaluation — the employer is out of line.

I am one of those keep-to-myself types and have never attended our company’s potluck BBQs which are held after hours on one’s own time, nor do I get involved in the latest and greatest fundraising drive because these things are never-ending . . . there’s the food drive followed by the baby care package drive followed by the adopt this family drive, the silent auction to raise money for the Christmas adopt a family, followed by the – omigosh!! I opt out! I took this job to make a living to be able to pay my expenses and student loans, not to contribute to every cause under the face of the sun.

I am also not a big socializer. In fact, I avoid anything done in groups as much as possible because of really bad experiences in the past and because people in social situations in general drain me very quickly. One on one is fine, I’m good to go, but put me in a group and I’m counting the minutes until I can escape. I am just not a social creature. It doesn’t appeal to me.

I have been in my current job for 7 years and have been promoted twice. I am a top performer, recipient of the “Beyond the Call” award for saving the company money, very academic and research oriented and an MBA summa *** laude graduate, so killing my brain cells at a happy hour is not appealing. I am also hyper sensory sensitive so I can’t physically handle the noise, the lights, the glare, the TV always running in the background, etc., etc., etc., and most employees in this company speak their native tongue (definitely not English), which is a language that gets on my nerves as they apparently only have one volume setting – loud! These environmental factors overwhelm me pretty quickly and I get nauseous from too much stimuli, nor can I can hear anything anyone is saying anyhow with all the noise, so why bother?

Thus, I go to work, I do my job and do it very well, and I go home, my happy place! ;-)

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Charity June 28, 2012 at 4:56 pm

When my company is hiring a sales rep or upper management, part of the interview process is going to happy hour with the owners and other sales rep’s because they want to make sure they all can get along outside the office or at conventions. On some level, I think this is just asking for trouble due to after a few cocktails people loosen up and questions are asked or comments are made that might possibly cross some legal hiring lines.

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Mia June 26, 2012 at 5:52 pm

I concur with Chris. What we do on our personal time is our “business” (unless your moolighting as a criminal or writing and posting things publicly i.e, Facebook that could affect your job). and to “volunteer” means exactly that. I do not socialize with my co-workers after hours….I have a life and I have no need to combine them. I have a great working relationship with my colleagues and I enjoy what I do, and my review is based on my “work hour” performance not my social or family life. If you took a job that “required” you to volunteer or socialize after hours then it should not be an issue as you knew that it was part of the job when you accepted it.

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Edward J. June 26, 2012 at 11:57 am

I agree that an employer can’t technically judge you on your attendance at something like a happy hour or extracurricular volunteer day, but I think we can all agree that people who keep to themselves excessively, and never participate in anything beyond the 9 to 5, tend not to be anyone’s absolute favorite in the office. At some point, being absent from every activity a company offers might be taken as a judgment on co-workers, and it would be tough for that not to have a subtle effect on how a supervisor perceives your happiness with, or good will toward, the people you work with. It’s only human nature.

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Cathy June 21, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Socializing and Volunteering are two separtate topics. Being a productive member of your company will involve being professionally social at the office. Outside the office, is a personal choice and should have no bearing on performance review. Volunteering is good for everyone in the company for community benefit, within reason of course. It is especially important that management be involved as well as the general staff.

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Mark June 21, 2012 at 4:52 pm

I feel that these are two different issues. Regarding attendance at after-hours events, like all others so far have mentioned, that truly shouldn’t matter whatsoever as part of an employee review. That’s your time, not company time, unless you are being paid for it. I would ask that this aspect be removed from my performance review, stating that federal wage & hour case law states that an employee cannot be evaluated negatively for not participating in volunteer events. Even a lawyer right out of law school would tell your employer that for this to be an evaluation factor, you must be paid. (In fact, I would ask for a copy of your review if you don’t already have one, which some states say you have a right to, in case you ever leave the company on bad terms and want to use this as evidence.) But, I have to agree with the employer on another issue. People keeping to themselves excessively, during business hours, does indeed have an effect on overall office morale and the general flow of the office. I think that aspect is a legitimate issue. (And this is coming from someone who is practically pathologically shy; I’ve had that issue – keeping to myself too much – in my review, and it caused me to make changes that I am glad I made.)

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Joyce June 21, 2012 at 4:25 pm

I had this situation come up. I told my supervisor (he was the Pres of company) that I would be more than happy to attend any event if the company plans to pay for my time and expenses incurred for the event; otherwise I have other commitments outside the office that I needed to tend to. Also, at that time I was the only married person in the bunch of socializing people, so I also requested that he call my husband to explain to him why his wife is out drinking with a bunch of singles, and my doing so is more important than caring for family. Does your job as facilities asst, really require you to socializing outside the office? Needless to say, I never heard anything more about it, nor did it affect my performance reviews since I did do everything and then some when I was on the job with professionalism and integrity. Volunteer days, I may participate as part of my “community service”, as I believe in giving back to the community I live in, but who I socialize with outside the office is overstepping my employers boundries unless there is some benefit to the company, in which case I would expect some sort of compensation. I learned to be a performing extrovert for the job, but I am an introvert by nature, so I need my downtime to rejuvenate in order to “perform” for the job. That may be another selling point–that if you are expected to perform well on the job, you really need to be able to have time with real friends, family, or alone.

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Julianna June 22, 2012 at 7:45 am

Where is the “like” button?

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Judy June 22, 2012 at 11:07 am

I agree! This comment needs a “like” option!.

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NonAdmin June 29, 2012 at 11:52 am

VERY WELL SAID!!! I had not even thought of that aspect of it. I am actually in this situation right now. I have a sunday evening event the night before I return from a week off and it is our year-end. Plus, that Monday morning is another event. I used my vacation, it’s return and the year-end to justify why I am not attending which is really true but I also just don’t want to spend a Sunday evening at a work function. Monday I would have to drive quite a ways in one direction then turn around and drive more than 30 miles in the opposite direction to work when it ends – what a lot of driving when I have a ton of work to get done!

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Carolyn June 21, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Your performance review should be based on core competencies. Our corporate culture and competencies does require us to get out there. However, these things cannot be required or expected on your time. My family commitments prevent me from participating in happy hour or volunteer events on weekends, so I try to participate in other ways. I send out communications to the office on volunteer opportunities, fund raising events, etc. When it is possible, I participate because I know that building relationships with staff in other departments is good for my career.

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Susan Swirsky June 21, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Absolutely your supervisor is overstepping the bounds of how you should be judged at work. Attending after hour social events does not and should not reflect on your work. They are completely separate. As for volunteer days, if your company requires, or strongly suggests, volunteer or community service, then I would say you should find something that interests you and do that. Some companies do require their employees to be active in their community.

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Chris June 21, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Once I’m off the clock I quite frankly do not wish to socialize with my co-workers. I feel like that anything I do or say will be judged and cannot truly relax or have a good time. I do not drink like so many of them do so I do not enjoy this social functions. Otherwises on the clock I am an outstanding team player who always is the first to volunteer to help, plan or organize any event and have a great relationship with my co-workers. Employees should not be penalized for their desire to keep their personal life personal!

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Marcia June 21, 2012 at 4:09 pm

As long as you are a “team player” during working hours, I don’t think that not participating in happy hour should play a part in your review. An occasional volunteer day for a charity for example doesn’t seem unreasonable however & would look good on a resume if you would change jobs. Volunteer days sounds like a good way to interact with other staff members.

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