By Sandra Beck
My sons think that their Uncle is very brave. He works with pirates, you see. They saw them with their own eyes at my office children’s party.
For one day, the office and the family called a truce. For too long, ‘his Uncle’s work’ has been seen as a monolithic grey monster that inexorably and mysteriously swallows their uncle for sometimes months at a time. The party has given them some fantastical images about what happens between the times their uncle visits.
The corporate dining hall crackled with good tempered anarchy, The disheveled suits enjoyed the chance to be ‘humanised’ by their families. For that day only, their children became a great leveler. Parents of babies bonded over sleep loss; parents of toddlers bonded of shamefaced apologies for their little ones over enthusiastic participation.
My company had a family party too – but it was all women, great food, and a lots of laughs. On the one hand, I’m regretful that my kids and I missed on a barrel full of laughs with my co-workers and their families. However, I tremble at the prospect of showcasing the ineffectiveness of my legendary hard-nosed negotiating skills in the face of one of my son’s tantrums.
For a business, I think that inviting families into the office gives all the right signals and support to your staff. Too many social occasions focus around late nights and alcohol. These can be great fun for those who are able to give up an evening of their time, and able to enjoy the free flowing drinks. Too often, they will exclude responsible parents – whether its the father or uncle who is expected to look after the children at night, or the pregnant woman who abstains from alcohol. However, for a business, it is often the family minded employees who are the most motivated and settled. A family office party is a way of saying ‘thank you’ to them.
It is a lovely idea. The kids are left with magical memories. The adults feel appreciated and understood.