I was grocery shopping when the public ding-dong sounded. “Would senior management please proceed to
the conference room,” a metallic voice
said, “for the afternoon group hug.”
Stunned by the imbecility, I paused
to regroup. A fellow passing by said:
“It’s alright. He really did say that.”
A broker pal is, as I write, preparing
for a week-long ‘teamcation.’ All 22
members of his of;ce are going on a
company-sponsored vacation together
in an eco-lodge in a down-market
Spanish resort — all to encourage
bonding. Had I been forced to attend
such an abomination, it may have
encouraged something less positive.
Some Wall Street ;nance companies
now reportedly encourage (a.k.a.
require) employees to join in company-sponsored marathons, ironmans and
arctic treks. Those not ;t enough to
compete, goes the mantra, aren’t ready
to take on the competition. How this
;ts in with diversity in hiring, I’m not
How did all this unconscionable
idiocy start? A consultant, I’d wager,
a baby boomer, probably in New
York City, delivered a paper to one of
his clients on corporate culture. He
probably proposed that, to make them
better workers, employees should be
pampered a little. Why not bring teams
together in informal settings and let
It must have worked. It needs
only one company in the world to do
something that works before everyone
has to do it. Sooner or later, even the
most conservative among us, actuaries,
say, are using words like ‘silo’ or
‘execution metrics’ and embracing
change management and disruption.
From there, it’s apparently a short hop
to the whole company spending a week
together in hell.
Memo to employers: Some people
thrive outside the team regime. Some
are lone wolves, eating only what they
kill. Some burn in the sun. For all these
and more, a week spent struggling
to maintain one’s of;ce face and
demeanor could cause psychological
problems. You may want to weed out
these non-conformists, but they’re
probably the ones driving your
Too cynical? How long, I wonder,
before it’s all ’round to the local tattoo
parlor to have the company logo
emblazoned on everyone’s forehead?
Apropos the consultant, The New
Yorker ran a cartoon of two detectives
looking at a corpse lying on the ;oor.
“From the severity and quantity of the
wounds,” one detective says, “I’d say he
was a management consultant.”
Since late last year, I have been
looking for a way to work the following
into a column. Now is the hour. Since
insurance people are all, at heart,
mathematicians, you might enjoy
this: In January, we went from 2017 (a
prime number) to 2018 (two times a
prime number, 1009). Next year will be
2019, three times a prime number, 673.
This has happened only three other
times in the past 1,129 years.
Try making conversation at the next
bonding session with that information.
You won’t be asked back. &
ROGER CROMBIE is a United Kingdom-based columnist for Risk & Insurance®. He
can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
May I Please Skip
The Group Hug?
BY ROGER CROMBIE