The psychology of field (retreat) day: Sadness and joy at the dewy mist
The flight was nicely uneventful other than the fact that my ear drums felt like they were going to burst. One of the worse things possible on a business trip is getting sick with a sinus infection. Luckily my doctor was able to electronically send in a prescription to a pharmacy down south where I was staying at. Despite the mega dose of antibiotics I was in pain. Add on to that the extreme physical exhaustion, I was ready to just collapse when I finally got home at midnight. I grabbed and woke my son up for a second and then vegged in front of the television to help ease me into a deep slumber.
Throughout the night the rain fell and it fell hard. The plops on the air conditioner were, however, soothing. I was home. Nothing can be beat that. My son woke me in the morning happy that I was back. I explained I was a bit sick and needed like five more minutes of sleep. He sat next to me and waited for me with concern. He inquired if I would be ok. He was also excited about field day. He couldn’t contain that happiness despite being worried about me.
Eventually I made it up and made his breakfast and got him ready. We packed a lunch and found a soccer ball for him to take. Despite my pain and drowsiness, I was happy to walk him to school in his state of excitement. Children’s happiness can be contagious if you let it. And I was more than happy to let his happiness soak into me. Although, I must admit I hate field day or the equivalent of it as an adult. You know-those things called company retreats. I mightily avoid those when I can.
As my son walked hand in hand to school he noted that he would be extremely sad if it rained. It was cloudy and a bit misty. The ground damp from the overnight rain. Each little rain puddle was a bad omen to him. He was eager to run and run and bounce balls around. He loved movement and the idea of being stuck at school was saddening. He looked forward to hanging with his friends in a field and just being carefree.
At my company, there are some that look forward to the annual summer retreat day where we ostensibly have our own field day. We grill, bike and hike. We canoe together. Or rather the office does. In childhood, you want to run free with your schoolmates through the fields. As an adult you wonder how this will make you more productive. When the office field day comes along, a hint of rain brings brightness to my soul. I can’t help but smile at the rain. I like my colleagues on an individual basis but being forcibly made to bond and build rapport in a group while out hiking I can do without. Work field days (or retreats) are meant to build communication, rapport and improve morale. Apparently, these are important things for a productive and healthy workplace. Have you ever asked yourself however why does a company need a field day to improve morale? If a field day is needed to improve work conditions, is there not something that is probably a bit more wrong?
Is a field day going to help with the fact that you are already overworked and work long hours. Not in the least bit. As a matter of fact, a field day means you have lost of day of productivity. And if you are like me, probably means that you now have to find time on the weekends to get that work done. As for rapport, those individuals that you don’t “connect” with in the office are not all of a sudden going to have grand rapport with you because you got lost hiking or fell into each other’s arms as part of a team-building exercise.
I once attended a team retreat that went wrong on so many levels that I am still suffering PTSD. I recall the extremely unfiltered personal tidbits that were shared that left many of us wondering if we should have brought a counselor to the event. There were also occasions where some had a bit too much to drink and in turn sad some very risqué things that just left everyone feeling like they needed a shower. I can assure you that thereafter threw a no greater productivity amongst the team members. Nor was there grand rapport thereafter that led to a greater work-conducive environment. It turns out that some people tried not to look each other in the eye afterwards. If the company’s main goal is to give the staff a moment of zen hand out spa certificates or raffle off different gift items. Maybe implement Reisling Wednesdays or Beer Cart Thursdays at the company. Perhaps even pay people what they are worth.
For today, however, I take pleasure in seeing my son so happy at the thought of team building activities. He is a “people person” at such a young age. I suppose that can help take him far in life. His sadness at the mist pains me. Thus, through my sinus pain, my son and I chanted:
Rain rain, go away
Let my baby play today
Rain rain, go away
Come again on mimi’s work field day
Inspired by the rain and the daily prompt
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