The department has just announced an after-work outing, but you're reluctant to join your co-workers — and your supervisors outside the office. That decision can be tough, but there are benefits to being there.

The reasons to skip can be convincing: You're shy. You already put in a lot of hours for the company. You're afraid of saying or doing something embarrassing that will haunt you in the office. You're concerned that an obnoxious co-worker will be there and dominate the conversation. You're longing to get home and absorb the comfort of your couch. We can go on and on.

The reasons to attend might not be as plentiful or obvious. Involvement can be healthy for you and your co-workers, mentally and physically, as well as healthy for the firm's bottom line.

Gallup research shows that an "engaged" employee is not only more productive but can account for an increase in company revenue. A study in Great Britain by the Association of Accounting Technicians revealed that workers would rather have a positive work environment than a pay raise.

Here are five reasons to participate in out-of-office activities.

1. An attitude of gratitude

Sure, you put in the work and get a paycheck. Maybe you even get a few extra perks: free coffee in the breakroom, a monthly lunch, a Christmas party and/or bonus.

The company is extending itself by offering a chance to enjoy yourself away from your desk. You should appreciate that. Even if the company is not paying the way, this is a good chance to see your workplace in a positive light. You can't have enough of that.

2. New experiences

So you're not a bowler, or you don't play darts or pool, or you don't like to try new restaurants. Why not stretch your comfort zone with people that you're accustomed to being with?

An outing like this can give you a chance to try that restaurant that you've been curious about. Or you'll be exposed to an activity that might pleasantly surprise you. You might even find a hidden talent. It's also a way to show your bosses and co-workers that you're a good sport and can roll with the punches.

3. Visibility

An outing like this offers a chance to let your hair down and reveal a different side of your personality to your co-workers. Just don't grit your teeth and play every game of air hockey like it's a life-or-death match.

It's also an opportunity to find common ground with someone outside your workplace circle, or to connect with a different generation. Supervisors will recognize that you went the extra mile to participate. That puts you in a favorable light, all while you're enjoying free time away from your desk.

4. Something to share

When you're talking about your work week with family or friends who aren't in your business, you'll be able to tell stories that connect with them. Instead of complaining about how your email crashed and cost you hours of productivity, you'll be able to share some positive news. Offer to share the activity later with friends or family.

5. You're a good person

At work, you might be the person who's impatient at meetings or fidgets during phone calls. Maybe you're the one who just wants to get the work done and leave the office at the end of the day.

Even if you're the sunny personality wanting to visit with all of your co-workers, an outing in a relaxed atmosphere will work for you. Take interest in your co-workers' conversations and learn something new about the people you work with.

View an out-of-office function in a positive light. It's not difficult to see the benefits if you're looking for them.