By Jim Berlucchi

I thought I was a guest at the company party, not the butler!

<p><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong>Q. </strong></span>Our office invited clients and all of the workers to a party to celebrate the company’s anniversary – it sounded great until I found out we are supposed to work doing things like checking coats, etc. And of course, it’s all gratis – the dinner is our only pay. Is this fair?</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong>A.</strong></span> Sounds like the party is more for clients than for employees, but then again – without clients there are no employees.</p>
<p>Maybe you can re-frame your fairness concern.</p>
<ul>
<li>Is it unfair to show appreciation to the clients who pay for your company’s services and provide you income?</li>
<li>Is it unfair to enjoy solidarity with your co-workers, providing cheerful service in a festive setting?</li>
<li>Is it unfair to increase your stock with your employer by showcasing your good attitude and professionalism at an important client event?</li>
<li>Is it unfair even if you didn’t get a dinner?</li>
</ul>
<p>You suggest that an injustice is being done to you. If justice is: to give to the other his due, what are you owed that you’re being deprived of, a violation of an employee right?</p>
<p>Your disappointment is understandable. You were looking forward to a work-free, carefree evening. But don’t equate your letdown with a grievance, making you bitter toward your employer and spoiling the occasion. There’s nothing but downside with that scenario.</p>
<p>Employers notice and really appreciate workers who go the extra mile. Outstanding employees don’t balk at pitching in. They readily handle extra assignments and aren’t too puffed up to do a lowly task – especially when it’s under their pay grade. They’re eager to serve and do so happily. If there’s not much work to do, they’re actually frustrated.</p>
<p>So what kind of employee do you want to be?</p>
<p>I have a friend who’s a devout Christian and successful consultant. One of his clients owns a construction firm that hosts an annual customer appreciation lunch. It’s a big job for the employees. They cook, set and serve tables, greet and clean up. It’s a big job. Though he’s not a customer, my friend was invited. He accepted, but also asked to help. This highly paid professional ended up chopping vegetables and stirring gumbo in 90-degree heat, but he enjoyed every minute of it. He was not unaware that he was indebted to his client. They pay for his services.</p>
<p>So don’t be a grump. Check those coats with a smile. Enjoy yourself. Love your customers. Compliment your co-workers. Thank your boss for a nice dinner.</p>
<p>And make sure you have seconds. You deserve it.</p>
<hr />
<p><strong>Jim Berlucchi</strong> is the executive director of the Spitzer Center, whose mission is to build cultures of evangelization (<a href="http://www.spitzercenter.org">www.spitzercenter.org</a&gt;).</p>