Champagne and bloodshed in the arena
Rewarding your staff is one of the essential principles of HR. Make them
feel special and wanted and they’ll work their socks off.
What intrigues me, then, is the inherent adversarial nature of another
cornerstone of progressive HR – the in-house awards ceremony. You are pitting
your staff against each other in a manner that Russell Crowe in full Gladiator
get-up would be proud of. And, as far as I know, Roman warriors weren’t allowed
to be fuelled by a combination of champagne and strong Continental lager to add
to their aggression.
I was at a swanky do at a top London hotel recently and as I stood in the
toilets (no, not handing out the towels), I listened to a chap from IT proudly
deliver the following line: "Hey, IT are going to take some serious
casualties tonight!" The guy next to me loudly commented on how little the
IT department must get out, using some very colourful language indeed.
This was right at the start of the evening, and these blokes weren’t even
competing for an award.
After the ceremony had finished and the arena cleared and cleansed of blood,
I was back in the loo listening to a salesman complain he had sold 32,000 units
of something I didn’t understand, and the company could stick the award he
didn’t win right where the sun don’t shine.
Sadly, methinks it’s a Catch 22. Staff get aggressive enough when they do
have an awards night – but just you try taking it away. I suppose if there’s
any lesson to be learned, it’s bug the toilets, and you’ll soon begin to
discover where people’s loyalties really lie.
Hartley is an HR director at large