Post-Pandemic Actuarial Cornhole, and Other Useful Return To The Office Tricks
As the Covid pandemic continues its wind down (except for in airports and airplanes where we will apparently remain permanently masked) some companies are now looking at clearing the cobwebs in the office and returning the workforce to their respective cubicles. While many businesses, including mine, have gone virtual, some simply function better when everyone is centrally located. Others find that virtual flogging of the workforce simply doesn't provide the same guttural gratification as that which can be done in person. And some managers have determined that their workforce simply isn't any good on their own, and must be centrally contained for their own protection. Whatever the reason, offices are beginning to open again, and life is slowly returning to pre-pandemic monotony.
Thank God for that.
I recently learned that a large, very well-respected company in the workers' compensation space has been planning to re-open their offices. It seems that their actuaries, however, were reluctant to return. We can only assume that they had performed a risk analysis on the effort and determined it was not in their best interest to do so at this time. There can be nothing peskier than an assertive actuary. You can tell, of course, if you are dealing with an aggressive actuary. They are the ones that during a conversation stare at your shoes rather than their own. Occasionally one will stare at your knees. Those are downright sociopathic.
Actuaries are very important people in the insurance industry. I once was given a great definition of how an insurance company works that involve actuaries. It was told to me by the late Doug McCoy, an insurance veteran with many years of experience. He told me that if an insurance company was a car, the Chairman of the Board would be seated in the driver's seat, hands firmly on the steering wheel. The CEO would be tightly by their side, with their feet set to operate the gas pedal and brakes. In the backseat would be two actuaries. They would be looking out the back window and telling them where to go.
Quite the image, and accurate at that.
This particular company had to come up with creative ways to get their actuaries to return; a solution, that is, that did not border on kidnapping. They came up with a Cornhole Contest to lure them all back into the fold. And it apparently worked.
Who knew that actuaries love Cornhole? What are the odds (irony intended)?
Cornhole, for the uninitiated, is, according to the Oxford Dictionary, a game in which small bags filled with dried corn are tossed at a target consisting of an inclined wooden platform with a hole at one end. Now, I must admit that years ago when I first heard the phrase “cornhole,” I had no idea what it was. A less than savory image passed through my mind. An image that borders on obscene, actually. Even to this day, my inner child giggles when I hear the term. And sometimes, my inner child's giggles can be heard out loud, but that is not the point.
The point is this company created a fun day centered around cornhole, or cornholing, I suppose, and it worked. The actuaries came for the cornhole but stayed for the duration.
This is an important lesson for companies that are wanting to get employees back into the workplace. There has been significant resistance to that in many quarters. It seems we like working at home in our underwear and working in our underwear at the office just isn't quite the same. Companies may need to get creative in order to lure their minions back into the fold.
There are other ways to successfully do this, of course. “Pin the Tail on the CEO” is a popular one. At least that is the one most requested by my office brethren. “Musical Cubicles” is another option. A slight variant of that time-worn game, Musical Chairs, employees would wander the office while music plays, and as soon as it stops, they would have to grab a cubicle. The trick, of course, is that there would need to be one more employee than cubicle. The remaining uncubicled operative would receive a jeering and humiliating termination, and be sent home with their crap. There is some irony in that “home” is where they ultimately wished to be, but with pay. There is a significant difference there.
Nevertheless, it is apparent that to restore a sense of office-based normalcy for employers who desire it, you may need to get creative. Many have already opted for a hybrid work environment, where employees have the option of working from home a day or two a week. Others create Actuary Cornhole, giving workers something interesting to look forward to before being locked in their cubes. Whatever works. If you want a more accurate idea of what will work in your place of employment, you could ask your actuaries. But you'll have to first bring them in with a Cornhole contest. They apparently love that stuff.
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Robert Wilson is President & CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, and "From Bob's Cluttered Desk" comes his (often incoherent) thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants - often on workers' comp or employment issues, but occasionally not.
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