Photo by Anh Nguyen on Unsplash

Well-meaning toxic corporate practices — After work non-optional socials

Aimee Fenech

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No, you may not steal my personal time with my family for team building.

For over a decade I used to work in the wealth management financial industry, it was the classic corporate office environment with a dress code, a noisy open office including clear occasional glass / aluminum dividers to dampen down the noise, stuffy air-conditioned busy environment. People walking around, on the phone and staring at their screen. Herds of people coming in and out of meeting rooms. All day from 7am until most often past 5pm.

Setting boundaries

After 8 hours or more at work some manager decides to do something for staff morale… a get together during our free time to do some team bonding… ignoring the fact that we’ve already been in each others company all day and all week sitting here yearning for the weekend.

People stand awkwardly around pretending to care about each others small talk looking furtively at the clock wondering when has enough time elapsed to be socially acceptable to leave and go home.

It is not the first time that I was pulled over post gathering and asked why I don’t stick around after work for the “town hall meeting”. I looked at this manager and asked why aren’t the gatherings during work hours? I have already given the company more than enough hours of my day and want to spend the rest of it with my family.

From then on the meeting would start half an hour before close of business.

As an introvert forced into socialization this was akin to torture, I quit way before COVID but I imagine that many others like me have welcomed working from home. On reflection I doubt the company would have changed its ways and kept organising after work zoom torture to continue the trend.

If you’re having to have conversations with employees about lack of engagement into your after unpaid work activities then perhaps consider:

  • not everyone wants to engage in this way,
  • making the events optional,
  • holding them during paid hours
  • listening to what employees actually want and need instead of going overboard with a gesture that…

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Aimee Fenech

#permaculture practitioner, teacher and designer, co-founder of #ecohackerfarm, writer, project manager and activist get in touch mail@aimeefenech.com