In what other context would a forced social interactions be expected to spawn geniuine relationships. If someone forced you to go on a date with them, you probably wouldn't like it. Healthy relationships form when they are allowed to do so organically. Forcing everybody to get into a room together won't automatically make them friends.
Event planners and HR consultants will probably tell you the opposite since they stand to benefit financially from people wasting resources to plan an event that many do not want to attend. In reality, many people are at work to earn enough money for their bills and to take care of their family. They don't commute for hours, put up with BS all day, and stress themselves out to make friends.
Here are the disadvantages of corporate events that HR consultants and the like will not tell you about.
Corporate events are obscenely expensive, with many costing the company well over $50K on average, depending on the number of attendees. This number goes up if the company has to book flights and hotels for people. Given how much the organization will be shelling out there should be an ROI analysis conducted.
This is nearly impossible to do as there have been no studies that produced any evidence that corporate events do anything to boost productivity or make people happier. However, given the ridiculous cost of basic goods nowadays due to inflation, people would really appreciate some extra money. If companies want to reward people, they should give them something that they can actually use.
Going to an escape room or a fancy dinner won't help anyone pay their mortgage.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced many people to re-think the way they generate money, and as a result, people started side businesses. Those who only work during weekdays generally only have time to run their business in the evenings and on weekends. If the company plans an event that encompasses those times, they are impeding upon an employee's personal growth and stopping them from generating additional revenue.
Doing so contradicts the purpose of the event and just makes people less motivated.
Life is way too short to not spend it with the people you love. Your kids will only be little for a short amount of time. And as the mass shootings in America have taught us, they may not always come home from school. Many parents, myself included, have extreme anxiety about sending our kids to school and try to capitalize on every moment we have with them.
I personally, would not sacrifice a single second with my children to go play BINGO with a bunch of co-workers at some corporate retreat. Company owners need to understand that just as they hate to see people wasting company time (i.e. watching Netflix on the clock), employees hate when we squander their personal time.
Events that serve alcohol, as many do, often result in people getting extremely drunk. Wasted employees don't make the best decisions. Some people may get too touchy with their colleagues or blurt out something insensitive.
Since alcohol has the ability to lower one's inhibitions, employees will probably be a lot more honest than they would be under normal circumstances. This is almost always of detriment to the employee because they might end up telling the supervisor exactly how they felt about getting yelled at about a missed deadline.
Also, if you are going to be out on the ocean or a deep lake, don't drink alcohol. You will either fall overboard and drown or end up featured on an episode of Shark Week.
Hosting an event that nearly all employees do not want to attend is a total waste of money if the goal is to make them happier. It's better to invest in collaborative tech like CRM software, an intranet site, or a more robust instant messaging platform. However, if the company's goal is to simply show that it has the power to bend people to its will, then a corporate event is a great expenditure.
Some people are probably well-intentioned when organizing events like these. However, the way we view working in American culture is terribly flawed. Unfortunately, we are taught from a very young age the mentality of an employee. To do what is best for the team and refrain from independent thought that may run contrary to popular opinion. We have been instilled with the belief that questioning authority is inherently bad and not what productive members of society should do.
This is why, as adults, employees do not speak up when they are being corralled into offices, or other venues and forced to partake in corporate events that intrude into their personal lives.
Posted by: Matt Irving on 7/24/2022