How the IRS “Scandal” could cost your business thousands

How the IRS “Scandal” could cost your business thousands

You’ve likely read the headlines about organizations being “targeted” by the IRS, which has resulted in additional scrutiny of the IRS itself. What jumps out to me though is how the media latched on to the expenditures made by IRS officials on “team-building” and have used them to try and make their point.

What is “Happiness?”

When I first heard the story about officials spending taxpayer money to produce a video with some of the worst “dancers” imaginable, the reporter breathlessly reported that it cost $1,600! And then they derisively exclaimed that at a conference the IRS spent $11,000 on “a so-called ‘Happiness’ Expert.” But my reaction was that those numbers sound like reasonably-priced expenses if team-building is done right.

Why can’t Team-Building be a little “odd” sometimes?

I’m not arguing that no expenditures were ever out of line, or that either of those things should have cost more. And I’m also not saying that those were the most cost-effective team-building endeavors. I’m simply pointing out that I’m troubled that the media chose to focus on and make fun of the idea of team-building itself, as if to say that spending any money is a waste without having a clear understanding of what that team-building, or any team-building can do for an organization.

Clearly not all team-building exercises or programs are made equal, and team-building sometimes involves odd videos or quirky “experts”. But business owners will tell you that one of the largest expenses they have over time is the recruiting, training and retention of good employees. And although team-building isn’t the answer to every problem, the results can sometimes be amazing.

The Cost of doing Nothing

Let’s assume for a moment that a company is well-managed and that its employees are good at what they do. The right team-building exercise, or presentation, or even retreat could convince a member of the team who was thinking about leaving to stay. The average company spends the cost of an employee’s salary in time and effort to get, train and wait out the learning curve of another one. If an employee making $50,000 per year stays as a result of team-building, the company just saved $50,000!

Let’s also assume that an effective team-building event occurs, and that as a result employees work together and communicate more effectively, then saving the company money and increasing profits can also be the payoffs for a relatively small investment.

Give Team-Building its Due

Don’t let the headlines scare you away from doing what is right for your company, even if it means hiring a “Happiness Expert” or making a silly video. Talk to industry colleagues or network to find out which team-building programs or events in your area are the most cost-effective, and be sure to share your experience so that team-building no longer suffers an undeserved reputation.