ACTIVITY: Boundaries

Read the following scenario:

Each year Personnel Solutions has a Christmas party, which is organised by staff who volunteer to help out. Usually the same staff members volunteer and spend a lot of their own time making the party a success. They organise the theme, venue, invitations, music, food and drinks, as well as the raffle and prizes. The event is not only an opportunity for people to wind down and celebrate the end of the year, but also an opportunity for employees to network across different areas of the organisation. It is a valued event with a significant turnout each year.

However, this year, management has advised that the volunteers cannot spend any of their work hours organising the Christmas party. Any organisation of the event must be done in their own time, because there is too much work to be done before the end of the year and the company cannot afford to dedicate employee time to luxuries such as parties. The volunteers are furious with this decision. They feel completely unappreciated; in the past they committed much of their own time and resources to organising the Christmas party and instead of rewarding them or providing formal assistance, the management committee has withdrawn all support! To demonstrate their disagreement with this decision, the volunteers, as a collective, formally withdrew their services. They stated that they feel ‘used’, undervalued and unappreciated by management. If management wants a Christmas party, it will need to find someone else to organise it!

The news hits the organisation like a storm and the management committee is bombarded with criticism from all sections for not only spoiling the Christmas party, but also the Christmas spirit. The management committee are perplexed by this reaction. They expected that the volunteers would be happy to organise the party in their own time and they certainly did not expect that the employees would be so disappointed if the Christmas party was cancelled.