Friday, December 05, 2008

How the Annual Dinner Affects Your Work

As the holidays approach, people toss away their corporate casual business wear, in favour of something less corporate. It is the much anticipated – or hated depending on your point of view – annual holiday party.

I’ve been to my fair share of these annual events over the years, for various companies. Some companies go all out and have mega-events, where they rent out huge banquet halls, have fancy caterers, serving formal multi-course meals. Other companies, have little to nothing to ring in the holiday season, opting for pay-as-you-go pub night.

A few times, I’ve been to these things, where the pub is open bar – meaning you can drink your career away if you aren’t really all that mindful.

One of my clients this year is going for the pay-as-you-go cheap night at the local watering hole.

I prefer those big swanky catered affairs, in those ritzy banquet halls. This is the one time of the year where everyone can get together in a non-business environment. And it is the one time of the year where companies show how much value they really place on you and your colleagues.

In this era of economic doom and gloom, the annual holiday feast has been sacrificed at many places. Although understandable, it says something about the devaluation of the common employee by his or her employers.

Employers love to brag about how everyone loves to work for them. Some I’ve been to even boast about how they’ve made someone’s top employer’s list. But what really says to an employee that you value him or her, isn’t some slogan created by some human resources staffer with too much time on his or her hands – it is the way the company actually treats their staff.

Companies that provide the necessary resources for their staff to do their jobs are on the right path. But providing those extra nice-to-have resources for their staff to not only do their jobs, but to experiment and try new things are even better. Just about everyone needs a computer and software these days to do their jobs – but when a company provides the fastest computers, and the latest cutting-edge software, that’s a sign the company really values it’s staff.

Companies that give the basic statutory holidays and that’s all don’t care much about their staff. But those that give additional vacation time, and even take non-statutory holidays off really show their employees their value. Work must get done, but working until you burn out isn’t a good way to motivate employees to show up. I’ve worked for companies where they not only give you the statutory holiday, but the day before and the day after that holiday off – not a bad perk.

Other nice perks – all those dreaded corporate functions. They can be a pain, and there are some people at the office you just don’t want to see outside the office. But companies that provide these to their employees are showing their love – so to speak.

Without these corporate functions – like the annual holiday party – we’d simply be drones, showing up when needed, doing our jobs and then going home. There is more to work than just doing it – there are all the interactions with all those other workers. As a species, we are social animals. So it makes sense that we have social functions within our work environments – otherwise, we’re liable to show our least favourable animalistic tendencies. And I hate it when that happens.

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