Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Corporate Hospitality should carry a health warning..

I have decided to give the NHS a rest for the next few days, it’s all too depressing, and decided to focus on corporate health. One look at a friend who came to visit yesterday and I looked no further for my subject. She was sporting a livid black eye and swollen face and was moving very gingerly, thanks, it transpired to two broken ribs.

‘White water rafting’ was the reply generated by my raised eyebrows. This forty something mother of two had been a guest of an insurance company on a corporate white water rafting day. The raft had capsized, it took her three attempts to get her head back up above water, which in itself must have been petrifying, and en route she received blows to the side and face possibly from a colleague’s foot, from the raft or from a rock. Ouch!

My protestations were met with – ‘yes but I signed a disclaimer’! That’s alright then, all bases covered. This could have been so much worse. My friend, didn’t want to seem too girlie in her male dominated environment, after a quick check from the water sports centre manager (who hopefully at the very least is a first aider) decided to go back into the raft for two more runs. Not because she wanted to, but because she didn’t want to appear weak. If the ribs had been broken, and one decided to ‘pop’ during the next two runs – who knows what could have happened.

Other injuries that I have either witnessed or heard of include;
Broken leg after a wine tasting evening (following a handstand executed in the wine bar – oops)
Frozen shoulder following a corporate archery event
Severe bruising following a ‘human football table’ game

Each of these incidents resulted in extended periods of time off work.

Another corporate favourite, paintballing, can cause serious eye injuries. A spokesman for the London Moorfields Eye Hospital recently stated that they were treating an increasing number of patients with severe paintballing-related eye damage.

The majority of adverse incidents usually involve too much alcohol. I remember that one of my previous employers ran a corporate event every quarter and we always had problems with two colleagues. One who got so absolutely paralytic every time that we had to allocate a minder to keep and eye on him as he had a habit of falling into roads or sleeping in hedgerows in frozen conditions. Funny the first time only. Another colleague was a delightful lady but a very nasty drunk so we had to keep our distance as she became more abusive and vitriolic. All quite amusing but not good in front of clients.

Throw into the mix the 2010 bribery act which defines bribery as ’financial or other advantage offered, promised or given by one person to another, where the intention is to induce or reward someone to perform improperly a relevant function or activity’. In other words, where a reward may influence a buying decision. Some corporate hospitality packages can be highly valuable and valued, such as a box at Royal Ascot or a trip to Paris for a rugby match and these could be perceived as a reward.

So you need to think carefully before you arrange, or accept an invitation, to a corporate hospitality event as it has the potential to become a veritable minefield. Hotbed of corruption, danger zone risking life and limb? Probably not. But all these things need to be considered. Corporate hospitality can still have a useful role to play in business, and often provides a good opportunity to get to know your clients and suppliers better, leading to mutraully advantageous, constructive working relatoinships.

In the meantime, just for the record, I am still a fan of corporate hospitality if it comes my way ….does anyone have any Wimbledon tickets?


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