One of the recurring themes of these Musings has been my distaste for supposed leaders’ tendency to abdicate their responsibility for the people part of their job to the Human Resources department.  This week’s Worst Idea, then, should be cause for celebration, since it demonstrates that even IT professionals can be as ham-handed when it comes to this employee engagement stuff as their HR brethren.  It comes to us courtesy of an article appearing in  Here’s the opening paragraph:

“Summertime, and the living is easy … if you are on vacation. For those workers, however, who have to toil through the long, hot summer months, the season can be a drag. So how do you keep productivity from dragging between July 4th and Labor Day? Here are some tips from HR experts on how to keep workers engaged and motivated over the summer.”

Whereupon it proceeds to 9 such tips, including:

1.     Conduct meetings outdoors

2.     Sponsor fun tournaments and team-building activities

3.     Plan fun department or company outings

4.     Sponsor picnics

5.     Hold an after-work happy hour

6.     Allow employees to leave early or work from home on Fridays

7.     Allow workers to have more flexible schedules and work remotely (not just on Fridays)

8.     Encourage workers to be creative

9.    Reward employees – with bonuses, days off, prizes or frequent flyer miles

It’s not just that this list seems to be more than a bit padded.  A picnic sounds a lot like a department or company outing to me.  And letting people work from home on Fridays bears a more than passing resemblance to working remotely “not just on Fridays.”  Or that number 9’s reward of “days off” seems an odd way to foster engagement:  “We want you to be more engaged in your work.  So stay home.”

My biggest issue is that with just a few small tweaks, this list could be used by middle school teachers who want to steal some time on while Principal Smithers is taking his seat in the dunk tank.

So if you view your employees as bored 14-year-olds needing entertainment and distractions, then by all means put this list to good use.  Otherwise try focusing on what really matters—ensuring that people’s work is meaningful and their work environment is respectful.