Etiquette for 'optional' workplace events that are not really optional?
December 21, 2012 6:59 PM Subscribe
Starting to feel uncomfortable about work events which are allegedly optional but don't turn out to be. How to approach this with boss?
We seem to have a recurring issue in my workplace involving optional events that aren't really optional. I am starting to get a little uncomfortable about this. The most recent three were:
1) A 'volunteer' Christmas outreach event. I got out of this one because it was on the first night of Hanukkah and I am Jewish. Nobody said anything (to my face) about my not being there, but everyone else was there and a few people grumbled that I was 'lucky' I had an excuse not to be because they didn't have an excuse and felt they had to go.
2) A staff Christmas party. This was held at a co-worker's home on a Friday evening starting at 5 pm. It had been our busiest week with all of us staying late for two nights that week, including the previous one. Two people left at 7:30 because they had kids to pick up. I left at 8 pm because I was getting a ride with another co-worker who was leaving then. I felt I had done my bit. But then I heard the next day that people stayed quite late and were gossiping about those of us who left...
3) After-work 'drinks' for the boss' birthday. I went, and since I felt weird about the Christmas party thing, I made sure I was the very last one to leave. The other last to leave was the co-worker who gave me a ride from the Christmas party :)
Am I wrong to feel a bit put out by all of this? If it's optional, I don't think they should be criticizing people for putting in a reasonable appearance and then heading home to their lives. Not all of us enjoy socializing with co-workers, and not all of us enjoy doing it on weeknights when we've put in a full day at work. I don't think that staying three hours at a Christmas party and then calling it a night is so horrible.
But historically, I know that those who don't go to these things do get gossiped about afterward so I feel that there is sometimes pressure to go. What is the best way to handle these types of situations?