Thursday, February 15, 2007

Keeping Up With the Boss

One of my clients really loves their employees – and it shows. Every month they do something fun to keep corporate moral up. Sometimes it is a potluck lunch, sometimes they have a catered lunch, and coming next month a formal dinner at a posh exclusive executive club.

Next month, they are holding their annual winterlude. A fancy suit and tie affair, complete with fancy food, fancy dancing and prize give-a-ways – last year they gave someone a 42-inch plasma TV!

I’m only a contractor, but I’ve been invited – as I often am – to my client’s corporate functions. And I’m going – hey, who knows, maybe this year they’ll give away an even bigger LCD TV.

Although I usually have a great time at these corporate functions, I also go because it is a corporate function. It is important to show up, to network with the client and others in the company. You never know when you may need to call on them for a resource, or they to call on you for more work. It is a bit of corporate schmoozing, but it is done lightly and in fun.

Where else can you have a couple of drinks with the powers-that-be and still be respected in the morning? So long as it is just a couple of drinks – drinking to the point of getting drunk, or even slightly buzzed isn’t cool. You want to have your wits about you around your colleagues.

Interesting though, I was chatting with others at this company and many just aren’t interested in going.

“Oh, I went the second-year I was here,” said one colleague from this company. “I haven’t gone since and I’ve been here six-years.”

“My husband says he was bored last year, but he still wants to go this year,” tells me another.

“I never go to those things – I like to keep my work life separate from my home life,” says another.

As a consultant, I see all sorts of employers. Most don’t do anything for their staff. So, when I see an employer that actually cares enough about their employees to go out of their way and do something nice – I think the employees should go.

It’s like that saying goes – you don’t know what you’re missing until it is gone. As these employees move to other companies in their careers, they’ll learn.

They had it good.

Sure, it is goofy and might even be silly at times to get into the corporate fun spirit. May even take you away from something else you want to do.

At least you’re at a company that does these things for you. Most companies don’t do squat. Most companies see their employees as slave labor. They get you for the lowest possible price you’re willing to accept in terms of salary, give you the least amount of time off (usually the maximum they are required to by law) and often don’t give you any decent benefits.

Yes, there is the whole schmoozing up and networking aspect to the corporate function. But that doesn’t last all night. Usually only over cocktails and at the start of the event -- the rest of the event is yours to enjoy.

Besides, it is fun watching the executives in a company relax. So often they are tight-asses at the office, always towing the corporate line. You might even get to know your boss, or a company vice-president or president better.

So, next time your employer tosses you a shin-dig – GO!

You’ll be glad you did, and you’ll even have some fun.

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