Here let me read it to you. Best to listen straight off Spotify though, the browser version is buggy.
Time to push back against HR joy-assassins
It’s that time of year when we all get together and let our non-work personality out of the bag for a few blessed hours. Work Christmas parties have come under siege in recent years from faceless joy-assassins in HR, and this year it’s time to push back.
As a boss in 2022, it’s your duty to let your people off the chain and turn a blind eye to Xmas-idiot behaviour, unless it’s infringing on the good times of your other staff. Because they have fucking earned it these last few years. And because having your people physically together is a blessing for your business.
It’s a good reminder of an important question:
How do you get your staff to like working for you in these remote or hybrid work times?
Right up the top of that list is: do they like and respect the people they work with? Because that’s the glue that holds your business together. It’s what makes it a business, rather than a loose cluster of people who happen to do the same work.
It’s hard to feel a real sense of team bonding with tiny screen people you’ve never met. Yes, tech boosters will tell you all-remote work relationships are just as good, and that offices are a relic of the past.
A quick reminder: they also told us with supreme man-confidence (manfidence?) that banks and fiat currency were doomed antiquities, because crypto would be taking over real soon. Ah 2021, what a time it was. Now they’re gathered around a virtual 44-gallon drum, fingerless meta-mittens on, burning their monkey NFTs for warmth.
Some of that stuff will be useful for something one day. It’s just not the miracle cure-all people predict when they’re breathing the tech fumes all day.
Lots changes, but millennia of human nature ain’t changing just because of a decade of phone app development. We are risk-averse herd animals, and sometimes you gotta be in your herd.
But lots of people still prefer remote work for a bunch of perfectly good reasons. So it’s up to you to get them together in some way to create personal links. And re-establish ones lost in recent times. Why?
Take the dog test
Here’s a test. If someone who works physically near you every day had to rush interstate one afternoon because their parents had a terrible accident, would you offer to mind their dog? If you had a yard with a fence.
I’m guessing you would, because that’s the right thing to do.
If it was someone in the same city, who you only knew as a Zoom person, would you make that dog offer? You might but I don’t think it’s as likely. You don’t know the non-work details of them as a person, because those relationships develop in the time between the meetings. Those people are two-dimensional beings made of electrons.
We’ve all had that experience where someone online becomes your new digital best friend. You bonded over your solid gold comment work on some post, and now you’re firing zingers back and forth all day. You have so much in common. Yet would you mind their dog? Of course not. It’s a different type of bond.
People will choose to stay at a business because they work with nice people who they feel would look after their dog if duty called.
Obviously it might not specifically be a dog, but there’s a whole network of subconscious obligations that hold people together. So they have each other’s backs when the going gets sticky.
The 2019 model of getting staff together needs updating
Which brings us to what happens when you get your people together. Not so much the Xmas party, because that’s actually the best model for gathering in these new work times. I’m talking conferences and meetings when you pull the wider team together.
The traditional approach to corporate gatherings is a pretty grim experience in 2022. People have been at home working on Zoom for two years. How are they going to feel about you bringing them together to sit all day in a generic box room, watching executive slides and eating Mentos from a bowl?
That’s just a larger, slightly more 3D version of Zoom.
When you go to the expense of bringing people together, smart businesses want them to have a great time together.
To experience something different, and to bond with workmates and industry associates. Out there in events world, we’re seeing conservative corporate clients putting on festival-style events where there’s no compulsory agenda and no company presentations. Just hanging out and being with their people for a few days, doing a range of fun stuff that’s on offer, or not doing it if that’s their choise. The audience satisfaction ratings have been off the scale.
Those companies are doing it to retain talent in times when everyone’s trying to steal their good staff.
I don’t think people go to conferences for the presentations, or at least what normally passes for presentations. The data is just my personal experiences, but 10% of them are inspirational, another 20% are useful, beyond that there’s a lot of filler. The presentation program is there to give you plausible cover when you ask the CFO for approval to go.
People mainly go to be among their peers. You don’t connect sitting near people in an auditorium, or standing in a buffet queue. You must get up and live.
You remind yourself why you like working in your chosen industry. Random conversations lead to better ideas than you’ll have in the office. You make friendships that will pay off in all kinds of ways, often in random decades-later ways. It’s a vibe: really hard to measure, like trying to put a KPI on love.
Getting together is worth money to you
As a business owner, I can testify to the long-game commercial potential of going to these things and just hanging out. And not going costs you money, in flat performance and uninspired thinking.
It’s not just for big corporates.
I do enjoy the daily LinkedIn stylings of Joyce Ong. She’s an absolute champ, a Melbourne accountant who’s started an online tax education academy that just got its first VC funding. She decided to go full transparency on her business, she posts all her numbers and issues with the business.
Joyce has started hiring staff, who are all remote. The business is in its infancy, but as soon as she can afford it she plans to take them all to Bali for a get-together.
Joyce will succeed for many reasons, and this is one of them. Set your people free and you’ll get the benefits too.
If they’ve had a few too many and they’re all standing on a table with linked arms singing Horses*, that is a great sign for the future of your business.
If I was a consultant I’d sell people the idea of a measurable Horses Index. You don’t need consultants. You know what to do.
* International readers, this is the 90s song that drunk Australians sing late at night. I’m sure you have your own version.
Bonus Zero Alcohol Beer Review!
PS Also for the party season I reviewed all the zero alcohol beers to help you stay classy and mindful if that’s what you want.
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