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If you are working in a sizable multinational company, or have the experience working in one before, chances are that you have already undergone countless number of company prep talks on corporate culture, employee welfare, and training sessions on change management, handling virtual teamwork, and last but not least, team building activities and outings in all shapes and forms.

Pep Rallies

Such trainings and workshops are undoubtedly beneficial and inspirational for fresh graduates when they are new to the corporate world. However, are you still pumped and excited over these sharing and physical activities when you have sat through eight of them across various employers in your career? Furthermore, as your experience grows, you start to realize that nothing ever change after every motivational prep talk or initiative. People fall back to their original bad habits, and because of normal attrition everyone need to take the refresher talks to keep the new joiners up to speed. The worst of course, is if you find yourself forced to listen to pointless motivational speeches by what you label as hypocrites in the workplace. Alright, that’s politically incorrect, but face it, they are everywhere.

How to sit through these workshops gracefully and attentively while trying my hardest not to roll my eyes is probably my biggest accomplishment over the years.

Please Make Us Better

How about those anonymous employee surveys? I completely respect my human resources colleagues and their profession in designing and collating the results and meanings of these surveys. There is indeed a scientific backbone to all this. Though after all these surveys done every quarter or so, I find that I can’t feel anything anymore. I don’t want to be perceived as a whinny weasel who complains about anything. When I sign in to a job, I know what I am getting into and I seldom ask for more other than proportional recognition of my work performance. If I find my job or my company starting to fade away from my aspirations, in whatever means, I will make it clear to my superiors and consider my options if the gap can’t be bridged. I really don’t believe any anonymous venting can bring about substantial changes. No matter how comprehensive the privacy measures are carried out and announced, most survey participants are still apprehensive of the consequences. To flip the coin to the other side, you may also find it frustrating to see your work being criticized by anonymous comments of other colleagues that are borderline hateful. Why do we now have to resort to using surveys to replace face-to-face discussions in a civilized, dignified manner? We all better “man-up” for our opinions as well as mistakes. It’s gutless to hide behind a survey.

Want Fun?

The team building activities have changed color progressively. It started with gut-wrenching physical stunts like those you would see in “Fear Factor”. We are supposed to learn how to face our fear, unleash hidden talents, build inner-strength, and develop trust amongst team members during the exercises. Then slowly because of cost constraints and the increasing trend of virtual teams across countries and continents, such activities become less viable. In some cases a few teammates of the same office are given a certain budget to conduct their own team building activities. Nothing stereotypical here, but in Asia it often means eating it away. Okay, perhaps we will put on same colored shirts while we are at the dining table, take a few snapshots, and e-mail them across the global team, as proof that food brings everyone together.

Freebies Anyone?

Since the dawn of very high-profile survey of “best companies to work for” in America, all major companies have put employee welfare as one of their high prioritized goals. Staffs are sometimes “encouraged” by their management to “vote” for their company in the annual survey. The better companies also make it an effort to establish company-wide social clubs, or nicely labeled employee engagement committees. I have the privilege to be invited to join or even chair a few of these committees across several of my employers in my career. It is no easy work. It takes us literally weeks to plan every activity, from the most popular annual balls, spring dinners to bowling or mahjong tournaments, open days for kids, charity visits and auctions, to distributing free t-shirts, windbreakers, umbrellas, breakfasts, lunches, so that there is always some kind of giveaway or activity for the staffs every month. To be honest, this sounds more like bribery to me. I enjoy my time working with my fellow committee members, but at the end of the day, all of us care most about getting satisfaction from the jobs we do and paid for. Getting a pat on the back for a job well done by my boss beats getting a free mug from the office safety club, hands down.

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