Enough with the potlucks!

Employers need to throw them out with the shredded focus

Maybe there are people out there who really love potlucks. I don’t care. I’m here to tell all you supervisors and middle managers that potlucks are an imposition on your staff, and you should know better.

It’s not team building, it’s judgment and competition

Nothing gets an otherwise worthless employee off track faster than a buffet. She will spend all morning talking about the buffet, asking everyone what they brought, and dispensing judgment if something was not homemade.

During the buffet, everyone will waste time exchanging ingredients lists. Somebody’s dish will get snubbed. That person will go in the bathroom and cry.

After the buffet, people will gossip for weeks about the one staff member who brought a bag of bread or boiled potatoes. That person just didn’t make enough effort, according to several employees that you can routinely count on to accomplish virtually nothing.

It takes your staff off task for most of the day

By the time everyone shows up late to work because they have to schlep food from their cars to the office, waste time putting it in the refrigerator, check on it mid-morning, then re-plate it for the buffet, you’ve lost one man hour per person.

Add the loss of time from those who forgot all about it. Now they have to take time away from their projects, run to the grocery store, and get food.

Then add up the time it takes to bundle everything up into plastic containers, put it back in the refrigerator, clean the kitchen, wash all the dishes.

Now factor in that everyone overeats at potlucks. Some people think you have to eat every single dish and compliment people on their cooking skills. This is crap use of everyone’s time.


Finally, you’re going to have slow-moving, muddled employees all afternoon, now, because of the overeating and carb loading. Who invented this atrocity?

Potlucks make you look cheap

If you can’t afford to have an event catered or take your employees out to lunch or dinner, just don’t have meals together. It’s not team building if someone has to go home after a hard day’s work and bake three dozen cookies–on their own time. The exception would be if you’re paying everyone fifty dollars for their contribution. Otherwise you’re making me work for free.

There’s never anything for the healthy eaters

Except for the few vegetarians among your staff who will protect themselves by bringing crudite platters, everyone will bring meatballs, ham, and pastries. Just let us bring our own lunch.

This should be a volunteer thing, but no one will feel they can opt out

A former employer who will remain nameless (University of Pikeville) made us bring food for potlucks several times a year.

The first one was the most horrifying. I brought a huge portion of macaroni and cheese, and it sat out on a table for about three hours with no refrigeration. Then people ate it.

Other people brought meat dishes which also sat outside the fridge for hours. That’s just asking for en masse food poisoning.

Some people like me, a post-transplant patient, are under strict doctor’s orders to eat nothing under these conditions. I could end up in the hospital, as could any of your employees.

That said, employees have no option to refuse. We know you’ll get us, somehow. Maybe you won’t have the courage to put, “insubordinate about potluck,” on our reviews, but we know you will write something like, “needs to improve collegiality” or “doesn’t engage positively with other staff.” What horseshit!

Put on your big girl panties and act like a fortune five hundred, even if you aren’t

Nothing spells “pissant employer” like a potluck. Not that I’ve ever worked for Amazon, but my guess is that they cater their lunches or let employees fend for themselves.

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