Should teamcations be compulsory?

13 August 2018 -

holiday

CMI Insights

Teamcations are a company-funded holiday for all employees, and a growing trend in business. CMI Insights asked four managers what they think

Amid a growing trend for company-funded holidays led by managers in the name of boosting staff morale, we asked four managers if teamcations should be compulsory. This is what they told us.

NO, THEY FUEL AN ‘ALWAYS ON’ CULTURE

Why is [the workcation] a problem? The philosopher Gilles Deleuze hit the nail on the head when he cautionedthat “we are taught that corporations have a soul, which is the most terrifying news in the world”. Staged fun... might look harmless, but it is a troubling trend. It helps blur the boundary between work and non-work, so much so that even drinking alcohol on company time is now subtly encouragedin some firms.

Work becomes a perverted home away from home, and as a result we are hardly ever not on the job.

Peter Fleming, psychologist who has researched workplace play ethics*

*As first reported in The Guardian on 02/11/15

YES, THEY SAFEGUARD EQUALITY

Every year Red Badger hosts an annual team summer holiday to celebrate company performance: this year we’ve hired two aeroplanes and we’re flying our team to Málaga to stay in an eco-lodge. 

The company is eight years old and the trips have got more lavish each time. All employees can invite a plus-one.

I think the practice is ethical: we put aside a certain amount of money per person from our profits and this means everyone gets an equal reward. That isn’t the case with a percentage bonus, where the cash sum will differ for each individual.

To ensure the trip is productive, we’ve separated out ‘company days’ that involve professional work. This means employees can enjoy having downtime to spend together while away – the team gets the chance to bond and these relationships are important for cooperation.

I think a great company culture is everything – it definitely improves staff retention, although you can’t directly correlate the number of staff parties with length of service!

Cain Ullah, founder and CEO of Red Badger

NO, IT’S A CONDUCT RISK

The Equality Act 2010 says that employers are liable for incidents of discrimination, harassment and victimisation that occur during the ‘course of employment’, unless they can show that they took steps to prevent such behaviour.

Employees may be disciplined for behaviour at a work social event or ‘teamcation’ if it is closely connected to work – or likely to affect the workplace.

It can be difficult to gather appropriate evidence of misbehaviour during social occasions that may include alcohol, or a high level of activity. Therefore, this can make preserving a duty of care difficult for managers.

In practice, tribunals have ruled that social events that are organised by workplaces are included, so companies should set out rules for conduct before travel, along with any disciplinary policies, and ask employees to sign them.

Christine Pratt FCMI, founder of the National Bullying Helpline

Read more: Christine Pratt on management of stress and depression, and how to spot homophobia at work

YES, THEY ARE A MENTAL HEALTH AID

We recently signed the Time to Change pledge, to formalise our commitment to employees’ mental health. 

Enabling our people to spend time together in a relaxed, holiday environment helps them to form close relationships built on great shared experiences. This means that,
when they find themselves under pressure in a working situation, they are more likely to have friends that they can turn to and ask for help. Sometimes having a friendly chat can make all the difference to how you feel.

We hope, by showing our commitment to people’s mental health through our ‘teamcations’, classes, team events and other initiatives, that when people face mental health challenges they will feel able to talk about them with management because they know they are in an environment where people genuinely care. 

Cathy Hayward, managing director of Magenta Associates

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