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?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
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?