31 March 2023

How to smash out the stress and make friends while maintaining a social club at work

At work, we all strive for success, but it’s important to remember that a happy, healthy team is the key to achieving the best results. That's why maintaining a healthy work-life balance is crucial for employee wellbeing. One effective way to de-stress and make connections at work is by creating or joining a social club. At Exness, we organize social clubs in all our office locations, and today we are highlighting the story of one of our club leaders. Onrawee Kunraksa, our retail account manager team lead, established a Badminton club within our Outdoor social club. We asked her to tell us how it grew from zero to 90 participants, how they organized the first-ever tournament, and what important lessons for her professional growth she learned. Get ready for a high serve!

I've been part of the Exness team since 2016, starting out in customer support. After a year on the job, I realized I preferred talking to clients over typing. The quality assurance team suggested that I move into a sales position, and taking their advice, I found my true passion. Now, I'm a team leader for the retail account management team in one of our regional markets, which has grown from just 2 to 11 members.

I'm currently collaborating with the Regional Operations Trainer’s team to enhance our employee onboarding process. Our aim is to ensure that new employees are well-prepared and familiar with processes and their daily responsibilities before starting work. This will benefit the company by reducing the time required for new employee training and enable the team to focus on delivering their best outcomes with minimal training downtime.

Working on this project, I'm learning something new, and that's one of the reasons why I've been with the company for almost 7 years now without even considering leaving."

Joining the Outdoor social club

Apart from my daily work, another thing that connects me with our company and its people is our Outdoor social club. It all began with an initiative from our HR team to bring employees together through non-working activities. I decided to join it almost from the beginning, and at first, we only had 15 members. We held a meeting to elect a vice president, and it turned out to be me. So it became my responsibility to get things started and make them successful.

Initially, we had no clear idea about what the social club was or what we were going to do. Therefore, I was assigned to create a budget proposal, which was a new experience. I had to start from scratch, seeking assistance from various teams, including finance, vendors, and events.

Fortunately, my colleagues were very supportive, and we created a proposal in less than 2 weeks. We began launching some activities but quickly realized that having only 15 members was not enough, considering we had 600 employees in our office back then. So we reached out to the IT team to create an email group and involve everyone in our office.

As we were short on time, I had to make decisions on the activities for the 6-month plan without conducting a survey. We started with badminton and futsal, which were suggested by our members. Futsal is a football-based game played on a hard court smaller than a football pitch, mainly indoors. However, it didn't work out as expected, so we put it on hold and continued with badminton only.

Since then, the Outdoor Social Club has grown to more than 150 members, and we've had many successful events that I managed with the help of my colleagues, such as bowling, hiking, Skycamp (skytrex and camping), and White Water rafting. It impressed me a lot that we could fill the registration for each activity in less than an hour. It's also important to mention that, apart from the Outdoor Social Club, we have many other clubs for employees according to their interests, such as the cooking club, movie club, reading club, and many others.

The rise of the Badminton club

When we started the Badminton club, I found it hard to manage it alone due to my daily workload. That's when SuatLing Chuah came into the picture. She not only managed everything but also played a crucial role in the club's success. Last year, SuatLing led the Social Club Badminton and was the driving force behind its popularity.

SuatLing is our Program Specialist in the Training and Quality Assurance department, where she helps onboard new employees and ensure they receive the necessary training. She tracks attendance, assigns training, and provides revision materials and quizzes to help employees pass their annual assessments.

As an avid badminton player, SuatLing was the first to join our club and was delighted to take charge of it: gathering people to the games, finding and booking a suitable court, and taking care of other important tasks to ensure the smooth running of the club.

The members of the club have been amazing too. Those with cars offer to pick up others for games, and everyone pitches in to reuse shuttlecocks to save on expenses.

The beauty of the club

It's amazing how sports activities can bring people together. No matter what happens during the day, we all look forward to our weekly 2-hour session on Tuesday to release stress and bond with each other. The success of the Exness club is evident in how people can't wait to come back each week, and the cultural mix makes it even more special. It provides a way to take a break from work and interact with colleagues differently.

After a game, we relax in front of the court, where there's coffee, tea, food, and snacks. We connect tables, creating a communal atmosphere where we share stories, laughter, and even songs. I just love that moment and want to make Tuesday a sports day for our entire office.

Imagine if every sports lover in the office went to the same complex every Tuesday. We could have up to 100 of us, and that would be amazing! "

Last year, we had a total of 90 participants, and although not everyone comes every week, we have an average of 20 people playing each game. New faces join us every week, and we encourage players of different levels to participate, saying, "Just get on the court. You can do it if you want to." Over time, we've seen everyone's skills improve, and we've all had fun together.

The club is also beneficial for new joiners of the company who may not be familiar with the concept of a social club. Joining a club based on their interests can help them feel more comfortable and welcome in a new country and workplace. It can give them a sense of belonging and help them balance work and social life. It is especially important for those dealing with depression or anxiety related to relocation.

Our goal is to foster team cohesion and spirit. We believe that everyone contributes to the success of the team. And we hope to continue promoting a culture of inclusivity. Once people feel comfortable in a club, they may expand their circle and contribute to a more positive work environment.

The first-ever Exness tournament

After playing for 2–3 months, people started asking to have a tournament. A lot of people were interested in participating in our club, but their work schedules and other commitments prevented them from joining our weekly games. During one of our meetings, we proposed the idea of the tournament to bring together all those who desired to play badminton, and it received approval to proceed.

SutLing, who had experience running events, was instrumental in organizing the tournament. However, since it was the first tournament for the company's social club, the procedures were unclear. Thankfully, our participants offered to design materials for the event, including announcements displayed on monitors and the list of participants. The event team also helped us find vendors for printing T-shirts and souvenirs and even secured a voucher for the winner to purchase sports equipment. Everyone who participated received a T-shirt and a souvenir.

Although we only had space for 16 pairs, we had about 50 people on the court, including supporters, committee members, umpires, and spectators. The tournament took an entire day to complete, with 46 games played. Even on a Saturday, outside working hours, people arrived at 9 in the morning and stayed until 5 in the evening. Even those who were not part of the committee helped with setting up the court and organizing food and beverages. Everyone took ownership of the event.

One colleague, who works remotely from Thailand, even traveled to attend the tournament and his dedication was inspiring."

How it drives professional growth

Actively participating as an organizer of a social club is an excellent opportunity to learn and grow professionally. Here are some of the skills and knowledge I have acquired or deepened through this experience:

1. Time and priority management. Managing the social club is time-consuming. We do everything from scratch, including planning, contacting vendors, administration, and procurement. At the same time, I cannot let my job performance suffer. So I prioritize effectively and manage my time wisely. I set daily goals and aim to complete them within a reasonable timeframe, to avoid overworking myself. Exness's balanced approach resonates with me as a team leader with daily targets. If I have a busy day coming up, I balance it out by doing less the day before so that I have time for other activities outside of work, such as social club events or personal responsibilities.

2. Communication. I have learned to communicate better with others, considering the big audience is reading my message or listening to what I'm saying. I practice being very careful with my words. And I also strive to be approachable and friendly while maintaining a professional demeanor. This can be challenging at times, but I find that being open and communicative with others helps to build positive working relationships.

3. Openness. Now I am more open to feedback from others, and I realize I am not always correct. Sometimes I make mistakes, and that’s OK. I have learned to apply feedback and change slowly. Additionally, I’ve learned to deal with complaints. There is always a chance for a complaint, no matter how well we manage events, and it can be detrimental to the team's morale. So, we need to learn to improve from complaints and not take them personally or emotionally.

4. Getting to know the company. During our badminton sessions, we have opportunities to bond. And it has helped me get to know people’s stories and the company better. I have learned about the roles of various teams and departments, such as RAM and KAM—retail account managers and key account managers. I know how the company deals with all the events, budgets, and the people in charge.

5. Collaboration and leadership. Getting to know the team is helping us on our job especially with connecting with people from other departments and understanding the company's processes. I have also learned a lot about how to lead people and inspire others to follow through with their responsibilities. I now know how to contact people from other departments without fear. If my team wants to plan a team-building activity, I know which department to look for and who to contact and what is the right procedure. It makes my job more efficient. Having a good relationship with colleagues is key to the success of any initiative.

6. Ask for help. Although it may seem obvious, I only fully realized its importance through my experience taking part in the badminton club. In the past, I used to try to handle everything on my own, but I now understand that seeking assistance from others can save time and result in better outcomes. I have found that my partners in the Badminton club are especially supportive since they are both trusted colleagues and close friends. And now, I don’t hesitate to seek assistance when I need it.

How to establish your own social club

There are many nuances to establishing a social club I was not aware of before embarking on this experience. However, there are 3 fundamental principles that I believe are crucial.

1. Try it out. If you have an idea for a social club, it's best to bring it to life and establish a club at your workplace. Alternatively, you can join someone who has the same idea. This experience can change the way you think about your job and may even help you discover hidden talents. Some people may think it is not their job to maintain a social club but I believe anyone can try it once and see how fulfilling it can be to be an organizer.

2. Propose ideas, even if it may seem frightening. It is a great opportunity to learn from experience. It can be intimidating to propose an idea to the company, but this is how we become experts. I recommend that if you want to initiate something in the company, just do it without worrying about the consequences. You should still be mindful of company policy and procedures, but don't let the fear of rejection hold you back. Start by proposing your idea to a line manager.

3. Have fun. There's nothing wrong with taking a few minutes to relax in the office and engage in a fun activity. People are usually open to suggestions as long as they are not harmful or hurtful to anyone. Small actions can help release tension and put a smile on your face, which can make your day better. Even something small can make a big difference. You never know how your actions may impact someone else, but it's important to start somewhere. Courage is necessary to take the initiative and do the first step. If you have an idea that's feasible and doesn't conflict with company policy, go for it!

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