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Employee engagement? Getting Cheney’d at a company party

bottlesleephunt Images from flickr users Torrey Wiley, Fred Hassleman, and phault

Everyone loves a party. Especially when they can get HR to organize it. Unfortunately though, not everyone’s idea of a great party is the same.

Socializing with colleagues outside of the workplace can be an effective way to promote bonding, improve teamwork, and foster employee engagement. At the same time, it can be a difficult experience for employees who are forced outside of their comfort zones.

Worse still, leisure-based engagement exercises can ultimately disengage some team members, by excluding or embarrassing them.

If you volunteer (or are volun-told) to plan a social event for your company, you should begin by determining who will be invited.

While it’s not possible to cater to everyone, issues that are trivial to many people can be major irritants, temptations, or barriers for others. By identifying what these might be, and arranging for alternatives, replacements, or accommodations, much of this friction can be avoided.

Alcohol in particular can be a disaster waiting to happen.

7 potential social hazards

  1. Exposure to alcohol
  2. Unconsidered dietary restrictions
  3. Unusual foods
  4. Athletic exertion
  5. Excessively loud music
  6. Air pollution and second-hand smoke
  7. Hard-to-read print

Alcohol is forbidden by a number of major religious denominations, can cause employees to become ill or miss work, introduces driving liability for event hosts, and can cause dangerous relapses for recovering addicts.

Drinking isn’t impossible to conquer. But it takes a committed team and a strong corporate culture to indulge without having problems emerge.

Lost inhibitions can cause conflict, strain relationships, and confuse managerial accountabilities. 

Whether it’s a misinterpreted compliment, an impolite remark, an embarrassing personality quirk, or (hopefully not!) buckshot to the face, sometimes social situations where people get too close to the “big man” end with someone getting Cheney’d.

Informal relationships with direct supervisors are possible, but they can be difficult to manage. All too often, when people get too relaxed around “power,” they end up getting hurt.


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