UK workers: can't get enough of your colleagues?

40% of employees say they don't spend enough time socialising with their colleagues. Who knows, the other 60% could be sick of the sight of them...

Last Updated: 13 Dec 2011
We’ve been knocked over by this survey – jointly commissioned oddly enough by the UK’s top five bowling companies. It announces that 14% of workers sacrifice nights out with their colleagues because they feel so guilty for saying ‘no’ to family and friends. Clearly this is meant to plant the idea of bowling with colleagues as the solution to people’s working and social ills, but if that’s its aim then the ball has wound up in the gutter: if only 14% are failing to socialise with colleagues out of guilt, then 86% may simply be happier hanging out with people they’ve chosen to have in their lives.

Yet according to the bowling companies it’s British businesses that are responsible for our dwindling relationships with work colleagues, as over a fifth (21%) of businesses only host team building activities outside of work once every year. Surprisingly, a whopping 44% of companies in the UK never host social events for their employees. The answer, presumably, is to pile down to the lanes, don some recently sprayed shoes, and marvel at your boss’s spin as she bags herself a turkey (that’s bowl-speak for three strikes in a row – which may conjure some unfortunate memories if you’re out at a BA social do).

But there is a purpose to this beyond greasing the pockets of the bowling businesses. 29% of those questioned think that letting off steam away from work helps the team get on better together and 16% state that getting on well with co-workers increases productivity in the workplace. A further 39% also claim that knowing their colleagues’ strengths and weaknesses helps them to work better as a team. Who knows, finding that the John from HR is unable to let go of the ball after three bottles of Tiger may just be the key to unlocking a potential new product line.

Billed as proof that the ‘recession has also impacted on Brits’ social lives’, 9% say they don’t spend enough time with their colleagues because they can’t afford it. Again, this suggests that 91% have plenty of other reasons why they don’t mix so much with their colleagues.

Indeed, we can’t help suspecting there’s not actually anything wrong in terms of how people are socialising. Given that this survey comes out in the same week as the wellbeing report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which finds Britons rating their happiness in life at seven out of 10 (compared with top nation Denmark at 7.8) then it suggests things are just fine as they are. Sorry bowling companies.

The survey also reveals the most endearing qualities of co-workers during office hours: having a sense of humour and not taking things too seriously; always pulling their weight at work; bringing in homemade treats; picking up other people’s work load from team members; and buying shop brought treats. Get all that right, and you may well improve your chances of being asked to go bowling. As if that’s really what you wanted in the first place…

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