Fail Better: Employee Awards I Would Prefer to Receive

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It’s that time of year which means businesses are probably throwing holiday parties and handing out awards for “Outstanding Performance” or similar categories. If you’re lucky, the holiday party is during business hours, but your place of business could also be one of those asshats who schedule these parties outside of work hours — as though having to socialize with colleagues in a work environment is how I want to spend my holiday, or that said socializing doesn’t constitute work. (As an introvert, yes, yes it does.)

Then there are the award ceremonies. Employee award ceremonies are like high school pep rallies to me: I tried my damndest to find a way out of them only to get caught by the vice-principal. So, because I am not very good at being sneaky, I end up sitting in the stands or at the table with the people from Human Resources, wondering how people muster the enthusiasm and seeming sincerity for these things?

And the speeches are the worst, the pep rally or employee awards ceremony version. They sound like something cobbled together from those magnetic word poetry sets, the American-Work-Ethic edition, complete with such phrases as: “worked weekends,” “neglected their families,” “worked while sick with a contagious illness that led to the entire office getting sick,” etc. To me, these ceremonies essentially feel like the glorification of busy rather than a celebration of good work.

And ultimately, these end up falling under the category of holiday anxieties I don’t need. To quote Jamie’s Guide to Less Stressful Holidays: “it’s okay to say no.” But I think we need another layer of protection on this mantra. Therefore, in order to discourage glorifying busy-ness and encouraging failing better at work, I propose the following employee award categories for your respective place of employment:

Best Daydreaming

This employee manages to sit through pointless meetings and look engaged by parroting back key phrases to the boss: “yes, ma’am, my bandwidth is synergistic!” while mentally crafting their feminist fantasy novella. That is some excellent multitasking!

Most Consistently Leaves Work at Exactly 4:59pm Every Day

What’s one minute? What substantial work can you possibly accomplish in one minute? This employee clearly knows how to manage their time and prioritize accordingly!

Best Effort at Attempting to Find a Justification for Bringing Dogs to Work

Look, all this talk about creating positive work environments? You know what would solve that problem? Puppies.

Master of Appearing Very, Very Busy and Important

This employee is the one zipping through the office, looking just short of frazzled. Clearly, this person is very busy with very important things. You clearly don’t want to overload their busy schedule of finding opportune moments to take all the Buzzfeed quizzes. (If you are reading this at work right now, click that hyperlink, I dare you.)

Best at Wearing Work Pants that are Essentially Fancy Sweats

“No, sir, these aren’t leggings, see they have pockets and are a spandex blend!”

Best at Hiding Under Desk Only Two Days Per Week

This employee somehow manages to get through the workday while living with an anxiety disorder and not having a panic attack. Props.

Totally Average Performer (and That’s Okay!)

Let’s face it: “outstanding” is a totally arbitrary category and usually reserved for the folk who can say “synergy” without gagging. We should be rewarding the employees who aren’t delusional.

Does Not Neglect Self-Care at the Expense of Being Busy

This employee deserves all the props, because it takes a hell of a lot of gumption to say no to pointless busy tasks.


I admit these titles are rather long, but fortunately they leave room to for recognizing multiple people and their unique and specific skills, and isn’t that what we are all about in a democratic society?

What about you? What award do you deserve?

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About Author

Special Events Editor. Smashing the patriarchy with pink glitter, lipstick, and cowboy boots. You can tweet her @GinnisTonik.

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