Q: I own a small business. During the holiday season every year, I invite my employees to lunch at a restaurant. In the past, I’ve let everyone go home early (with pay) afterward. For several years now, a few people have skipped the lunch and gone straight home. This has caused some ill will among the other employees. One option is to have everybody go back to work afterward, or skip the lunch altogether. Any advice?
A: Gee — and all you’re trying to do is be a good guy. Unfortunately, your mistake was in letting the situation continue unresolved for several years. At this point, I like the option of telling everyone they’re expected to return to work after lunch. This uncouples the meal from the afternoon off. The focus now returns to the real benefit — the luncheon — and ensures that those who skip int don’t gain anything for their rudeness. If you want to avoid penalizing anyone by taking away their afternoon off, randomly announce it on another day. Then there isn’t any opportunity for animosity.