Do you know any other organisation that has a staff day?
We close up shop for a whole day. And there isn’t a horse race. Or a national historic event.
Some people must think we’re a bit crazy!
So why do we do it?
Do we have staff day because we need to get out of the office for a day? No. We have Saturday, Sunday and holidays to do that.
Do we need an extra holiday? No. Staff Day is not a holiday. It’s a working day.
Is it a training day? Not really. We don’t have any special classes.
Well, why have it?
First, because it’s a tradition.
For almost twenty years now, World Vision offices all around the world take a whole day out from their activities for relaxation, reflection, and prayer.
In most offices, this day is the “first of the new year”—that is, 1st October.
The idea is to celebrate and reflect on the year past and look with hope to the year ahead. It is a time for thanks, confession and praise.
God has done mighty things in World Vision Australia during the past year. And He will do more amazing things this year too. It is right to pause to recognise God’s faithfulness.
But tradition is not enough reason for Staff Day. One of my favourite sayings is Time makes ancient good uncouth. Just because it was right yesterday does not mean it will be right tomorrow.
The second reason for Staff Day is that it turns our relationships upside down. It is one day in the year when your job description doesn’t matter.
Clerks become artists. Designers become administrators. Store staff make music. Bosses are organised by people on probation.
World Vision needs more of this. It reminds us that status is a product of our secular society, not so important in a Christian organisation. We are all here to serve one another. It is an opportunity for everyone to say, “You lead: I follow.” Sometimes we need to change roles to make these ideas real.
That brings me to the third good reason for Staff Day. It is an investment in social relationships.
This is the pay-off. This is where the benefit justifies the cost. This is where Staff Day becomes more than a fun and unusual thing to do. It is a worthwhile investment.
Because we do have fun, because we are meeting one another in new ways, it pays off back at the office.
I reckon the organisation lives and works much more effectively for the next three months after each Staff Day just because we get to know one another better.
That is why World Vision invests in Staff Day. It is worth the time and money.
Without Staff Day we are less effective.
A Day At Board School
Our Board knows the value of time out for reflection and learning. A couple of weekends back they gave up a Friday night and a Saturday to discuss their role.
Like everyone in World Vision Australia they strive for excellence in performance.
On the Friday night they invited Fergus Ryan, Senior Partner with Arthur Andersen, to talk about the responsibility of Boards in the future. His message was important, and not only for Boards.
“Who will not be here in the year 2005? Put up your hands. You're irrelevant! You've got to find out what your young people think about governance. They will be the ones governing in ten years time.”
“The centre is a centre. It is not a head.”
“There are two key management issues in the future: Federations, and Networking.”
“Systems thinking is important. Leaves curl up. Drops of rain fall. Clouds gather. The temperature drops. The wind changes. It’s a thunderstorm. The storm cannot be understood in terms of raindrops, or leaves, or temperature. It is a system of inter-related and inter-dependent variables. We need to think of organisations like this.”
“The things that got you to where you are, are rarely the things that will get you to where you need to go.”
He also said, “Accounting is obsolete.” But that needs a bit of interpretation!