There's a big departmental picnic coming up; I've been told that, as a contractor, I won't be paid for the time if I do go to the picnic. However, as an integral member of the team (I definitely do as much and participate as fully as the employees on the team, and we're looking to get me hired-in full time as soon as possible), it seems odd to turn down a group bonding activity. It'll eat up half a day; should I eat the revenue loss for the sake of team bonding, or should I go to the office anyway and sit there by myself working?
Consider that there may be a third choice - ask if you can make up the hours through the rest of the week and then go and still get paid the full amount.
As a contractor, if things are going well you can afford to take the time off and do a bit of networking. If they aren't you shouldn't turn down free food.
I think in the long run, the team-building that this picnic offers is probably much more important than the half-day of pay. Unless you really need that money, go have fun at the picnic!
I have been in a similar situation and have bristled when the company calls it a team bonding/team building event and makes integral members of the team take leave without pay to attend the event. I just skip those events.
If the event is held after work or on a weekend I am actually more willing to attend because then everybody is on equal footing.
Keep in mind the food isn't free, it is costing you four billable hours.
I'm always pro-team building. Can you put a price on your team's perception of you in the long run? It's hard enough being looked at as an outsider on a team because you're a consultant. Now, putting in the extra effort to distance yourself from an all-too-cheap bonding experience (not to mention the free grub) like a team picnic, to sit at work by yourself seems... I don't know, seems kinda unpleasant. They'll either think of you as money-loving or you don't care about bonding with them. Unless of course if that's not a priority.
If you are looking to get permanent in the office, you should definitely focus on improving your relationships with your fellow colleagues as well as your seniors. Going to a trip with them is really a good option for this.
Also if letting down half day salary is not gonna cost you much, then you should definitely attend the trip.
Also, talking to your senior about working for extra hours to make up for the trip time will definitely show your loyalty towards work and also your half day salary would be saved.
So you should definitely go to trip and ask your senior to make up for the half day loss by working in extra hours.
It sounds like you're gelling well with the team if they're going to bring you on full-time. If you are on track to getting hired and just need to get past the paperwork phase, it may be a wise choice to go.
If missing that half day of work will really hurt you, maybe just attend for an hour and then politely leave. It seems like what matters in your situation is making an appearance to show goodwill? Just bothering to show up makes a big difference to people. Even if you're only present for a short time, people will remember.
And then it sounds like you do have the ability to make up some hours and earn back the lost time. For things like this, I personally think it's best not to sweat the small stuff if it's just a temporary situation heading in a promising direction.
I've worked as a contract employee, and when I have been invited to company functions which take place during the day, I put them on my time sheet along with the work hours. You can ask your supervisor ahead of time, but if they approve it, then you should do it. If the supervisor says not they won't or can't, then ask if it would be alright for you to stay in the office and work.
If this is an event during your off hours, it would be in your best interests to attend the function.