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Party no substitute for cash

Money may not be the answer to all workplace problems, but it helps those lower down the food chain.

COMMENT, Business

Late last Thursday afternoon, I received a call inviting me to a party. The party was being held to celebrate a milestone achievement on a significant project within an even more significant development.

And the guests of honour were the thousands of labourers who just so happened to be the reason why such a milestone was achieved within a relatively short space of time.

It's unusual to hear about a company arranging a party of this sort for its workers, so I accepted the invitation.

As labourers queued in carefully alloted timeslots for their food - which was a mix of delicacies from each of their home countries - I was given an explanation into the reason why the party was held.

The company in question had pondered the prospect of paying each of its labourers a bonus of roughly around 50 dirhams.

But instead of a salary top-up, the decision was taken that a party would have a more lasting effect on memory over a longer period of time, with the boost in morale and stronger allegiance to the company resulting in the workers putting in even more effort on the construction site.

Fifty dirhams might not last as long as a happy memory, but with ABBA's The Winner Takes It All playing in the background, I doubted very much that the workers would have foresaken this for a two-hour social event - especially one that ended with half of the partygoers picking up their tools again for the nightshift.

An event like this is a commendable thing for a company to do, but the reality is that staff, especially those who are underpaid, would sooner choose to have a bit more money in their pockets.

But while labourers are being fed for a couple of hours, other factions of the industry are giving twice-yearly salary increases in line with rising inflation in a bid to keep their staff; it's a shame the same doesn't apply to labourers.

The party wrapped up with an unseasonal Mariah Carey song, All I Want For Christmas (... is a bonus, I thought).

Money may not be the answer to everyone's ills in the workplace, but it would certainly help those lower down the food chain.

Angela Giuffrida is the editor of Construction Week.

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