82

The company I work for organises a "strategy trip" once a year. I put it in quotes, because while it's announced as "strategy trip", it's very clear it is a vacation trip: the destination is always a sunny location (Spain, Greece, etc.) and while there are one or two mandatory meetings, the rest of the time you're off to do whatever you want. It's also a public secret that the mandatory events are mainly for "tax reasons", i.e. a justification for the company to organise such a trip and pay for it.

These trips originated in a time where the company was only a handful of people (about 20 years ago). The company has now grown to nearly 100 people; I believe about 50-60 of them join the trip.

The trip is around 5-6 days, including travel, and two of the days are weekend days. The company pays for the flight and all-inclusive hotel accommodation, the employee "pays" for the 3-4 week days by using his/her vacation days.

While the trip is announced as a "company strategy trip", it's not mandatory to join. The invitation explicitly states: "please let us know by date such-and-so if you will be joining".

I've been with this company over three years and always declined to join for the following reasons:

  • I'm a bit of a "einzelgänger" by nature; while I make sure to socialise at work (small-talk at the coffee machine, communal lunch, etc.) and get along with mostly everybody, I am very uncomfortable in large groups.
  • The destinations are not appealing to me.
  • There appears (from photos of previous trip) quite a bit of drinking/partying/going out late going on that I'm really not interested in.
  • My weekends are valuable to me.
  • I'm not comfortable sharing a room with a colleague on a non-professional trip.*
  • I would like to use my vacation days for my own vacations with my partner.

(* to save on room costs, you're supposed to share a room; I get along with most colleagues but definitely not all of them. Furthermore, I've been told that it has happened that the hotel did not have separate beds in the rooms, forcing people to actually share a double bed, which is definitely outside my acceptance boundaries.)

I can see the added value of a company strategy session or team building event, but in my opinion such a session should meet some basic criteria (1-2 days max., focus on company, professional setting, private rooms in case of overnight stay) that are clearly not met in this trip.

While I'm not forced to join, and I'm not the only one to opt out, I feel increasing pressure to join ("you don't like fun?", "you should get to know your colleagues better!", etc.). Furthermore, I feel strongly that this trip is an unfair perk to those who do join versus those who do not (if you don't join, you don't get a coupon or something that represents the value of the trip). In fact, I think that in it's current form the trip is a waste of money to the company that could be used better and actually divides the company into a "trip" group and a "non-trip" group.

I've explained my reasons to various (management and non-management) people in the company, but usually avoid the discussion where possible. The results are mixed: some colleagues are understanding, management usually thinks I should join for reasons of team building.

Recently, a new director was hired in order to reorganise the company (it has grown a lot of the last years and the original founders/directors felt they needed some help managing). This director is trying to professionalise processes and cut overhead, not in the least because the financial results are not too good lately. As a senior, I'm being involved in this process and often have discussions with management about how to implement/change things.

I would like to bring up this "vacation trip" at some point. Preferably, I'd see it gone for the reasons state above, but I can see that backfiring quickly: it's a popular trip (as said, more than half the company joins). Yet, even at a modest estimate of €1000 per person, we're looking at significant money here, which I think could be better invested (e.g. adjustable desks, new equipment for the electronics lab, IT infrastructure, or even a new junior employee to offload some of the overworked seniors).

My question is twofold:

  • On the short term: how can I, as a senior, alleviate the peer pressure of joining this trip?
  • On the long term: what arguments can I bring to the table to have management reconsider this trip in a way that is also acceptable to the employees who have been joining on this trip for years?

Update

In response to the comments and answers already posted, I should maybe clarify a few things:

  • I'm not against the trip per se. While I as an introvert indeed do not enjoy such events, I can see the value it has to people that do enjoy it, and I can also see that it's a great perk for them.
  • I agree €1000 per employee is a small investment, but I've been denied a number of investments, including better (adjustable) desks and lab equipment because there were no funds available for it. I find this impossible to justify (especially considering I have a team member sitting at home with neck issues caused by bad posture).
  • Our company has only three layers: directors, management team (I.e. group leaders and project leaders), and engineers. I'm a senior in the middle layer, reporting directly to the directors.

Update 2

A lot of good answers, but difficult to choose one as "accepted answer". I admit that, in hindsight, my question was formulated too broadly and perhaps focussed to much on my personal arguments against the trip instead of focussing on arguments in the perspective of the company.

I tried to explain in the update and also numerous comments that I'm not against the trip per se, but only aim in reconsidering the trip format (e.g. shorter duration, less exotic destination, combining with company events, etc.) to free up some of the funding the trip is consuming. I failed at bringing this nuance across, obviously.

In the end I decided that I will propose investments to the directors with (hopefully) solid arguments why they are needed, and leave it up to the directors to decide if indeed they are needed and if so, where to get the money from. I will hopefully learn something about their priorities by the response I will get from them.

I accepted the answer that gave me the most insight, although I want to stress that there were other good answers as well - I can only accept one.

  • 2
    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Jane S Oct 25 '18 at 21:43
  • 1
    I would be even more upset if it was actually: How to handle "vacation trip" that is actually a company strategy trip – Cris Nov 17 '18 at 14:48

13 Answers 13

38

Firstly I'd hate this sort of trip too - and for pretty much the same reasons you do! However..

Furthermore, I feel strongly that this trip is an unfair perk to those who do join versus those who do not (if you don't join, you don't get a coupon or something that represents the value of the trip).

While I'm not overly familiar with Netherlands tax law I believe it works similarly to the UK here - by having the minimal "strategy meeting" element they can provide this "perk" to their employees without either the company or the employees getting taxed on it. It would be very difficult to offer a comparable alternative to non-trip fans without tax implications, and probably quite substantial ones at that - I believe the company pays tax at the rate of 80% on benefits in kind to employees outside of the 1.2% "discretionary" scope!

So if they were to give you something else that didn't have that "it's a work trip.. honest!" veneer attached to it that has the same €1000 value it could end up costing the company €1800 a head.

I think could be better invested..

e.g. adjustable desks, new equipment for the electronics lab, IT infrastructure, or even a new junior employee to offload some of the overworked seniors

I wouldn't be so sure on that - while you list some excellent areas for investment in the company I think you are too quick to discount the benefits the trip brings to the company, and more specifically the negative consequences of removing it. The only thing worse than never having a "perk" is having one you like and then having it taken away!

  • Your colleagues that like the trip may look to leave - either because of the effective "wage cut" they feel like they have taken by having a €1000 benefit removed from them, or because they think that the company cutting such perks means they don't care about employee morale, or possibly even because they think it indicates the company is in trouble financially-speaking.

  • Those who stay will be de-motivated, both the people who would previously have enjoyed the trip and probably also some of the non-trippers who then have to put up with listening to the disgruntled trip fan's complaints. You're going to think I'm exaggerating here but I promise I'm not - a previous company I worked at had similar, albeit shorter, trips before I joined and they stopped them the year I joined. People were still complaining about it 5 years later when I left, and the most vociferous of these complaints came from people who weren't the best paid in the organisation and weren't in a position to afford holidays abroad out of their own pocket. So to them it basically made the difference between getting a short holiday with some downsides (no real choice in destination, some boring company events to have to sit through) vs. not having one at all.

  • The company may have difficulty recruiting desirable staff in the future - I'd be surprised if the "annual company retreat" wasn't at the very least hinted at as a benefit of working there and to some people that would be very attractive. If the company finds it harder to recruit good staff they may start to struggle - especially if existing staff perhaps jump ship.

On the short term: how can I, as a senior, alleviate the peer pressure of joining this trip?

This is difficult - I've never really found a foolproof answer to this. You might be best off just demurring with some self-deprecating humor "it's not my thing.. I'm just a boring old codger!" and quickly change the tack slightly to enthusing about how much fun they are going to have.

On the long term: what arguments can I bring to the table to have management reconsider this trip in a way that is also acceptable to the employees who have been joining on this trip for years?

Don't, please! Even if you disagree with what I said above about the value the trip brings the company don't even try to kybosh this - for your own sake if nothing else!

If you succeed you'll be known as "The guy who destroyed the best bit about working here" to ~60% of the work force, if you fail you'll be known as "The guy who tried to destroy the best bit about working here" to ~60% of the workforce. And I can pretty much definitely say that's going to have an adverse effect on your working relationships.

  • 5
    I like this answer, because it makes me realise I may be underestimating the (hidden) costs associated with cutting or shortening the trip. – einzelganger Oct 24 '18 at 13:43
  • If anyone were to ask the tax authorities, they might investigate and decide it is taxable retroactively for several years. – Keith McClary Oct 29 '18 at 4:02
118

As you describe it, it sounds like this trip is part of your current company culture. You need to take into account that a cultural change will also bring personal change with it.

Personnel fluctuation is one of the most significant and also most overlooked costs in the company. There are different opinions on how to estimate those costs, but any way you look at it they outshine everything your trip could possibly cost. A good estimate for the loss of human capital you suffer is to take 1/4 of an employee's overall income including overhead since he joined the company. Add to that the cost of job ads or recruiter's fee and you have a good idea what it would cost you to replace somebody and get them up to the same level.

Now I don't know your company, maybe those party-trip people are not the ones you want to keep anyways. But if they are, I would steer away from saving some short-term money and risk alienating them.

Perhaps you could introduce some gradual change to make it more accommodating for the rest of you. For example, one can pay for an upgrade to a single room, or take your partners with you? Offer an alternative, more work-focused event while not touching the original event? Alternative locations?

Don't get into the jealousy-debate like free perk and such. If the company is offering something like free fruit and you don't like fruit, would you demand an additional € to compensate for your personal taste? No, it only makes you look petty. It's the owners' call what they want to spend their money on, and it's your call if you want to take it.

  • 2
    I should maybe clarify: I'm not opposed to the trip per se. I'm also aware that there always be perks that benefit some people and not all people. My point is more that this particular perk is a significant expense to the company and only benefits about half of the employees. At the same time, there are problems in the company that are not address because there's supposedly inadequate funds. – einzelganger Oct 24 '18 at 13:08
  • 38
    You need to separate that if you want to address the issues that lack funding. If Management wants to fund something, they will find a way. If they want to save money, they will. Your job is to make them want to fund the thing you deem important, not show them things they supposedly could save on. Getting Morale up on half the employees is still more then getting morale up for no one! – Daniel Oct 24 '18 at 13:12
  • 2
    @einzelganger: Maybe best to put a separate question: How do I make management fund important initiative? – Daniel Oct 24 '18 at 13:13
76

Why would you want to kill off the trip? It is probably the most valuable asset your company has.

As an introvert you might not see the value of socializing for a week but for the more social minded people the value of such a trip is immense, and for some might be the only reason to stay with the company. Apart from direct loyalty and happiness the creation of shared memories will create a much stronger bond between employees and will help a lot with inter-company communication.

You mention dividing the company but as far as i see from the information given this division is voluntary: you decide you do not want to go. So this is a non-argument.

So, if you are indeed worried about cost: try to revamp the company outing. Make it a long weekend at a closer destination. Go to the Wadden, take a hutje-on-the-hei.

But please, don't champion the killing of this perk because very soon you will be The Guy Who Hates Fun.

As for the avoidance/management of peer pressure: There are much better answers than I could type up right now on this site on this exact subject.

  • 34
    Your answer totally disregards any feelings an introvert would have about this situation. For an introvert it is not so much that they can't see the value in the socializing as it is that forced socializing is painful to them. And the company trip as described would be hell for an introvert for multiple reasons. – Peter M Oct 24 '18 at 12:15
  • 9
    This is why I am just answering the part where OP wants to stop these trips. – Borgh Oct 24 '18 at 12:24
  • 52
    @PeterM OP wants to spoil the event for all non-introverts though, that has nothing to do with being an introvert. As an introvert myself I would cancel but why would I spoil anyone else's fun? – Summer Oct 24 '18 at 12:34
  • 26
    The premise of the question is: "I do not think this event has value and just costs money, how can i redirect the resources". My answer is "think of the value this event probably has for the people who like these things". – Borgh Oct 24 '18 at 12:40
  • 31
    @PeterM I’m mostly an introvert yet I 100% agree with this answer. There’s no forced socialising involved here. – Konrad Rudolph Oct 24 '18 at 12:52
44

As a Dutch person myself too and very familiar with your problem, I think you should ask yourself what you're actually winning by getting this trip cancelled for all your coworkers.

Getting out of this is easy, simply say no. Say you have family matters to attend to, say you don't like to sleep in a bed that isn't yours. It doesn't seem like you care to make friends or social relationships, so simply saying no is an option here. Keep in mind it can make the relationships with your coworkers worse and you can be excluded from things in the future.

I know in The Netherlands it's very common for larger companies to go on these vacations or ski trips. They are meant as an asset for people who do enjoy these things and they help with bringing in and keeping new employees. Nearly everyone enjoys these trips. Don't be the guy who spoiled the fun for all others, this will certainly make you a hated person and will jeopardise the relationship with your coworkers in a way that it might make working together hard.

On to other issue in your post: 'which I think could be better invested (e.g. adjustable desks, new equipment for the electronics lab, IT infrastructure, or even a new junior employee to offload some of the overworked seniors).' This has absolutely nothing to do with this trip. Have you asked for any of these things? Have you discussed this with your manager? If your company has the expendable money to go on a trip, they have the expendable money to buy anything you need. But they are not going to read your mind.

  • 4
    I have asked those things, and was told there were no funds/resources. I am part of management, reporting directly to the directors. – einzelganger Oct 24 '18 at 13:12
  • 3
    By the way, I agree that I should be able to just say no. I may be too worried in that respect. – einzelganger Oct 24 '18 at 13:20
  • @einzelganger Understandble, I was too. It seems you're already labelled a party pooper for just not wanting to come. – Summer Oct 24 '18 at 13:30
  • @einzelganger On your first question, you might get closer by offering less information about why you made your decision. "Why don't you want to go?" "I wouldn't enjoy it." Any reason you offer might seem like a 'problem' that could be solved or overlooked. – employee-X Oct 25 '18 at 15:04
  • 1
    @DaveG: because I'm the only senior not joining. – einzelganger Oct 30 '18 at 8:20
24

If you don't want to go on the trip don't.

And don't get involved with it at all in a negative way. There is no business reason for this trip to be downgraded or terminated that can't be argued either way, and you have 50 to 60 (more than half your colleagues) people who think different.

12

If you can't deal with the "pressure" of others wanting you to go on a trip, how are you going to deal with the pressure of everyone wanting you to quit? This is a possible scenario after it becomes known that you are the person that ruined everyone's fun by taking away a trip that more than half of your colleagues go to.

50-60 people out of 100. Clearly quite a few people are enjoying this trip. If you don't want to go you have already pointed out that you can choose not to go. I see no issue here other than the one you have created for yourself.

The only real issue is that you feel pressured to go and you don't want to. This seems more like an interpersonal skills question than a workplace question. AKA how do I get my coworkers to stop bugging me to go. How hard is it say "I have responsibilities to my family here, and unfortunately I can't take that many days off away from them"? This is such a trivial problem. Instead of trying to set huge gears in motion that affect everyone, why don't you just address the interpersonal problem directly?

Your problem reminds me of the saying "If the mountain will not come to Mohammed, Mohammed will go to the mountain". Instead of trying to move the mountain, why don't you just move yourself. Do this by addressing the actual problem, instead of a tertiary cause.

The block of text you posted is grasping at straws for reasons to fight this trip. If you want to work for a company that values only the bottom line I am sure that it wouldn't be difficult to find another company to work for that is exactly like that. Until then, whatever you choose, you should understand the selfishness of what your are proposing and that most likely it will backfire in your face by making the situation you already dislike, even worse. This will happen when you exchange benevolent-peer-pressure (come out with us) for malicious-peer-pressure (why is he talking to us and why hasn't he been fired yet?).

  • 3
    This is the best answer by far. – axsvl77 Oct 24 '18 at 21:12
  • This answer feels aggressive towards me. You seem to assume that I'm the problem and only me, whereas the choice of management were to put the money is objectively leading to problems (people sick at home, people actually left because of it). – einzelganger Oct 25 '18 at 7:35
  • @einzelganger You are blaming the company for people being sick at home? Not sure of the laws in your country but in the USA and I suspect most 'western' countries companies are required to make reasonable accommodations for medical issues. IOW, all the person with neck issues had to do is request a 'doctor recommended' desk citing the reasons. Apparently they didn't. What evidence do you have that adjustable desks would have made one bit of difference in regards to this person's neck problems? Most people with poor posture will have poor posture and associated pains regardless of furnishings. – Dunk Oct 25 '18 at 20:47
  • @Dunk: in the Netherlands we have very strict regulations regarding the workplace, which includes ergonomics. If an employee sustains an injury that can be related to unergonomic workplace, the company can be held responsible. So yes, it is an issue. – einzelganger Oct 26 '18 at 7:09
7

I understand this kind of problem. I have been in similar situations.

I propose a different perspective: it is possible that you do not belong there and should look for a different company.

The reason I suggest something so radical is based on previous experience of my own. In previous contexts, I have felt as though I am there only to work, earn money, enjoy my work, and get out to be with my family and/or friends. Others' aims of converting that professional environment into a social club of some kind always appeared to me as a corruption or perversion of what the workplace was supposed to be.

In that kind of context, raising questions like "I think you have your priorities wrong, and you should invest in decent tables and chairs and so on, before blowing your funds on social events" seem awkward and confrontational.

But then you quit, you realise that there is a different workplace, where people are cooler. You join them. You can work from home. You can work wherever. You realise the way they work is better. You feel happier. You enjoy the time with your colleagues and so enjoy the parties and group holidays. If you raise the issue of funds for office equipment being compromised by blowing it all on parties, they are cool about it and see the obvious sense in what you are saying. Things change and your input is heard.

So what's the difference? Well, one company is no good for you and one is.

5

I want to answer for one part of the question only

What arguments can I bring to the table to have management reconsider this trip in a way that is also acceptable to the employees who have been joining on this trip for years?

I think could be better invested (e.g. adjustable desks, new equipment for the electronics lab, IT infrastructure, or even a new junior employee to offload some of the overworked seniors).

You can't

Simply put, it's not your business to discuss how the company invests their finances. As a senior you may very well have a role and be listened open ears, but you are not a decision maker. That decision won't be up to you.

If the company chooses to spend that money in company vacations, they have good reason for that and trying to convince them do to something else may look as an attempt to disrupt the holiday when it is very well accepted by other employees.

Two points to discuss at this level. First, workforce's benefit and comfort are valuable assets for a company. As discussed in other answers, a sad workforce may tend to leave, because it is easier for competitor to become appealing. Comfort is a very EXTREMELY subjective matter. Individual. You are clearly saying that you are not comfortable with the event, and you pointed that others are comfortable. That is natural. You are trying to propose a change that will impact a lot of other people, and they will be definitely unhappy by that.

On the other hand, you had provided a number of arguments for directors to invest their money better (and still reduce their taxes). If you really want to stand your CFO in a budget discussion, I suggest you to get prepared very well.

  1. Do not go to such a meeting with the purpose of draining costs from holidays. The CFO will choose where to drain budget from. You will ask what costs to increase, not reduce. If they choose to buy resources saving from office cleaning costs (and still going to holidays), well, that is... mmm 🤢.. their own choice. You will likely be the first to leave for the dirty toilets then.
  2. Expose a real issue. From your question, you said you think they could be better invested. That is your opinion, but you may want to show management facts about the potential utility of investing the money better. Does your company have a real and current problem that can be solved by buying new servers? Can you make management feel the urge to buy new servers?

Example: adjustable desks and billiards

From how you exposed the matter, you look to me like one who is just fighting against the trip rather than planning a budget or exposing a request. Yes, you deem adjustable desks a better investment. On what grounds? I personally deem them luxury, like for example a pool table (YES, I told my CFO I would have bought a pool table than a table-football, and YES, I had in my mind an expensive meeting-table-billiard combo solution that is soooooooo cool).

The pool table is not a joke. In my environment, I am fully aware that table-football is more popular than billiard. My conclusion is that I am not in charge of dropping a thing that is very welcome and popular for something else I (and hopefully a few others) like. That means if the football table breaks down and needs replacement, I won't have any argument in favour of buying a pool than a new football. Or else I will have a lot of enemies in my office during breaks.

Return to the adjustable desks, can you show (to us as an exercise, and to your boss as showdown) why does your company need adjustable desks? If you can convince me and a handful of us you may have some chances with boss.

Conclusion: if you don't want to go yourself, don't try to convince others not to go. Anyway, the company should understand that you have your good reasons not to go to the event and shouldn't push on you any longer.

  • Adjustable desks are a luxury, right up to the time you have back problems. Then they are an absolute necessity. – DaveG Oct 29 '18 at 14:30
  • Some of my coworkers with problems on their backs are addressing their problems with other than adjustable desks. We are regularly checked by an occupational doctor according to our regulation – usr-local-ΕΨΗΕΛΩΝ Oct 29 '18 at 14:38
4

I agree with the other existing answers, but just wanted to chime in my two cents. Apart from unwavering loyalty of your employees the primary perk for your company is "tax exemptions" which is two birds with a stone, and to get this perk removed would be a bad move.

(If I were your company's employee and I enjoyed these trips, I would highly be irked at the removal of the thing that is most awesome about this work place - because which workplace has these kind of detours from a hectic work life? And for free, at that?)

Though I don't agree to changing this perk I think if it bothers you that much, you could suggest your company to do the following instead.

You could alternatively suggest your company to make this amount a fixed bonus that goes out to each employee so that no one misses out this perk. It gives you three benefits -

  1. A tax benefit for your company as usual due to bonus to employees
  2. All the 100 employees get the benefit
  3. The employees decide on how to use that money - some of them might need the money for something more important than a trip, you never know.

And the second alternative might effect your employees interests but benefits the company - which is to initiate CSR (though here, employees will highly be disappointed but your company again gets tax benefits)

I'd also like to talk about the peer pressure you face at not attending these trips. Peer pressure is only pressure if you're not 100% confident about your decision. If you're absolutely happy about your decision, nothing anyone says should bother you. So next time someone asks you if you're not coming, be absolutely unfazed and assured about your answer, this will make you happier and they may not ask you another time.

  • 2
    I would guess that a bonus paid to the employees has to be taxed as part of their income tax (so they would only get like half of it), whereas a work "strategy trip" doesn't. So it doesn't really work out, assuming they really like the trip as much as they would like the money. – Paŭlo Ebermann Oct 24 '18 at 22:55
  • oh i didnt assess the tax cut from the bonus would almost be half! either way i am for retaining the trip – Anu7 Oct 25 '18 at 5:16
  • 1
    This answer ignores that the company is almost certainly not providing the 'trip benefit' for the sole purpose of being a benefit to the employee. Obviously, the people running the company believe the trip provides value to the company or they wouldn't be offering it. By simply doling out cash in lieu of the trip, you eliminate whatever perceived benefit the company believes the trip is gaining for the company. Additionally, now that the trip is going to cost the employees $1000 or so, what percentage of the workforce do you think will end up attending? Further minimizing the value gained. – Dunk Oct 25 '18 at 20:19
  • @Dunk From the question: "it's very clear it is a vacation trip" & "There appears quite a bit of drinking/partying/going out late going on". The only "value" it provides to the company is "tax benefit" as per the OP. So I haven't written an answer based on speculation or inferences or I haven't been a devils advocate. I've seen the benefit the company sees - the benefit the employees get and tried suggesting an ALTERNATE (i never suggested both bonus and trip from employees pocket anywhere in my answer) that does not take away benefit from both the company and the employees. – Anu7 Oct 26 '18 at 5:54
  • Ill be honest - one of the concerns of the OP that stands out to me the biggest is that the people attending the trip get to have a better rapport or better visibility with the management than those who don't attend. – Anu7 Oct 26 '18 at 5:58
2

As a person working in company that have such trips and knowing a person in company where such trips don't exist (but they offer something else) I can show you few resolutions:

  • In my company such trip is packed with meetings and team building (from 8 am till 18 pm with lunch break). One of the part is saturday party. Used usually to wind off the training and help people from different departments to talk in person about strategies they learned during meetings. Participans can stay longer but as the trip is usually announced 2 months prior people have already booked they vacation days AND the time is usually in mid of holiday season so hotel prices are quite high. This event is not perceived as a free time of free trip due to amount of time you need to spend on meetings and workshops. Also people who don't like to attend such events usually participate in the "scholar" part and then go back home. Also due to company politic we don't share rooms. The trip is not planned as tax evasion thing so in your case this should be the first thing to ask "if there is a financial reason for organising such event? If room sharing is due to cost maybe it's not so money wise?"
  • My friend work in company where there is only one teambuidling day for the company (around 500 people) so it's really the only opportunitty for them to know each other. It's planned in such way that participans spend around 2-3 hours more than if they would go to work. So no one would feel that the day is wasted or their usual schedule is destroyed.
    BUT for the tax evasion reason they have a budget for trips. The way it works is that they are all informed that in particular year the company will HELP organise 10 trips (usually Friday-Sunday). The rules is that the same person cannot parcticipate in more than two trips a year. The trip (place, date, hotel) must be put in till end of January by a person(s) who would like to HELP organise it and each trip will be announced to everyone and then need to gather set amount of participants. Then company discuss the rates with hotel, organise transport and so on. Thanks to this everyone can have a vote where to go and when, get better chance in meeting new people from company and not be forced to one thing.

So for alleviate the peer pressure I would address the fact that there is set place and date to do teambuilding which may collide with people schedules or is just inconvienet. If 50% people are not participating that leaves them alienated - so the opposite of teambuidling. I would suggest to shorten the trip to be more convenient. For example Thursday-Friday. And back that up with financial reasoning.
Then I would suggest some activities that would help "mix" all 100 employers rather than sticking to the same group of constant 50.

I would steer clear of forbidding or ending some type of company sponsored/organised event.
First because such events are the cheapest way of "buying" employee loyalty. Second it's good for internal company PR. The company is perceived as doing good (because they have money to spend). If such event would be canceled people might get the idea that the company is struggling and could close or fire employees. Some of them may want to look for job elsewhere. Also your contractors might get the same idea.

1

I work in a very similar company that also has such trips, and it is striking that Dutch companies like this have relatively little management, leaving a lot to the personal responsibility and initiative of the employees. On top of that, Dutch work culture is based on consensus, not decisions made by the top and enforced on the people below.

How does that work with 100 people, how can people feel consensus and having a common goal and a common culture while completely different teams only really work together occasionally? Well, the fact that you had those drunken discussions with all sorts of colleagues on the trip to Berlin really helps, since inevitably those discussions will be about work much of the time.

Especially as an introvert manager, getting to know lots of your colleagues on a personal level really helps at those moments when you have to play the extravert for a bit.

So regardless of the cliche, I think these trips are probably worth what they cost in terms of company team building. Also they're fun.

The company I work for does have trips that are slightly shorter (friday-sunday) and alternates trips without partners and trips with, because some people only want to go if their partner goes and some can only go if their partner doesn't.

1

This is a rather indirect answer, so you might want to delete it.

It seems to be an established fact that the trip is going to happen. So give up one weekend of your life and embrace it. Come on, it's a free holiday! Get the other introverts to join in too. While the others are carousing you can sit in the other bar and chat, or just sun yourselves with a good book, or visit some cultural thing. You may be surprised how many people prefer this; it might catch on. It's what I do. On one jolly a guy disappeared for the day and went to the zoo!

And the shared room? Cough up the 25 Euros and get a single.

-1

To answer the "How do I say 'no'?" part of your question:

I have a colleague who was asked by the MD "Are you coming to the company event?". He replied "No, and if you try to make me, I will leave." In other words:

  1. He unambiguously declined
  2. He made it clear that this was not open to discussion
  3. He did not offer any reasons that could be argued with

You can probably be less abrupt than my colleague (although the stereotype is that the typical Dutch approach is pretty direct).

  • 1
    I would definitely be less abrupt, but you are right about this question. This question is a fancy dressed up version of "how do I say no?". – Tyler S. Loeper Oct 24 '18 at 18:01

protected by Jane S Oct 25 '18 at 21:42

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.