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Person–organization fit reflects the extent to which someone’s personality and values match, or fit, and organization’s culture and climate. Good fit is important for both employees and organizations. This challenge involves the cultural considerations of asking employees to socialize outside work hours. If socializing outside work is an expectation of new hires, then it becomes something to consider when applying for jobs. Why would companies ask employees to socialize outside of work hours? There are a number of good reasons: (1) fostering comfort and relaxation among employees, (2) helping people de-stress after a hard day, (3) learning more about one’s colleagues, and (4) building teamwork and unity.154 All of these benefits should improve interpersonal relationships and potentially boost productivity and customer service. If such requests are voluntary, however, then it is likely that fewer people will show up, thereby reducing the benefits. People who show up are more likely to be like-minded and share a common race and gender, as well as hobbies. For example, one employee described the in-group at their company as the folks who hunted and fished together outside of work.155 Voluntary requests can thus serve as a subtle way of promoting homogeneity rather than diversity. Moreover, voluntary requests potentially set up a situation in which people develop unequal social networks. This can have unfair career advantages for those who attend because people discuss work-related issues at such gatherings. In an interview, advertising executive Ian Mirmelstein said his career has suffered since he stopped attending work happy hours.156 It thus makes some sense to make it mandatory to socialize outside of work. Some companies accept this conclusion. Zappos did in the past, and other companies continue the practice today. One woman told a reporter that there was an unwritten requirement at her employer that “employees were expected to spend extra money and time on group lunches and twice-weekly drinks. This kind of socializing was necessary in order to get ahead.” She was not told about the requirement during the hiring process, and she now feels a lack of fit. Her problem with the expectation is that she has two children to pick up from school and she tries to save money by taking her lunch to work. In a recent performance appraisal, she was told, “I needed to be more of a team player.” Her feedback was partly based on her lack of socializing outside of work.157

What are your thoughts about making it mandatory to socialize outside of work hours? 1. I think it’s a good idea. The benefits exceed the costs, and I don’t agree that it fails to appreciate diversity. The socializing activities can be varied to fit the values and needs of diverse employees, thereby supporting diversity. 2. I don’t like it. What employees do after work hours is their business, and companies should not infringe on them. Socializing outside work hours should be voluntary. 3. I believe that employers have no business interfering with how employees spend time outside of work. This means that I don’t want either voluntary or mandatory requests about socializing outside of work hours. If people want to socialize outside work, let them arrange it on their own. 4. Invent other options.


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