Team Builders Don’t Always Have to Involve Alcohol

June 7th, 2019

Here’s a short story about Ed, a department manager at a regional publishing company. Ed worked hard every day to do right by his team, and he tried his best to give them everything he had as a boss, coach, and mentor. In addition to reading every management blog he could find, he arranged fun activities to support bonding outside the workplace, including the creation of a company softball team.

Every spring Saturday, the team hit the field, and Ed brought the balls, bats, and a cooler full of beer, exactly one beer for each participant. Ed worried endlessly about the cooler and its contents. Would each person be sure to have their single beer? Would they like the brand? Would it be cold enough? Would the event be fun without becoming dangerous? Would everyone stay safe and drive sober? If someone got hurt, would the company’s insurance cover it? Would Ed get in trouble with the corporate office? Each time he packed the cooler, he worried and worried.

Each time he hit the field with the team, they all had fun. With all the swinging bats, fly ball catches, laughter, outs and home runs, memories were made. But Ed still worried.

One day, he forgot the cooler and left it at home by accident. He felt terrible! Would the team ever forgive him? Would they mope and sulk?

They didn’t! They played in the sun, joked and shared stories. And not one person mentioned the missing cooler. From that day on, Ed decided to leave the cooler behind every Saturday.

Literally nothing changed.

The lesson: Nobody needed that company-sponsored beer after all. Later, Ed found it easier to plan events for the team, since he stopped making alcohol an essential part of every gathering. After a few months, the savings added up. But nothing else changed. In fact, Ed began to schedule events at places that didn’t involve alcohol at all, like mini-gold courses and ice cream shops. Outing options expanded and the team loved it. They began starting activities on their own, like book clubs and stream clean-ups. And all of them lived—and worked—happily ever after.

Do you really need alcohol at all of your company events? If you aren’t sure, try cutting back or removing booze from a few select events altogether. See what happens. Chances are, your employees will miss this minor detail less than you anticipate. They’ll keep showing up and they’ll keep having a good time, booze or no booze. And the next morning they’ll arrive at the office with clear heads, ready for the day.

Need more encouragement or ideas? Contact the staffing team at PSU!

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