Why we can’t simply cut and paste

Updated: Dec 19, 2020

The pandemic has forced us to look at life in so many different ways. Never has this been so clear as when I watched the UCLA women’s gymnastic team’s final practice. Instead of focusing on the fact that because of the pandemic their competition season had been abruptly cancelled, they focused on ending the season on a high, with a big dance party! Instead of trying to replicate one more competition, they did it in their own way, and on their own terms.

I love this because it highlights the importance of not just cutting and pasting what we did before the pandemic, but to look for and find ways to do things differently, in new and often glorious ways.

This has been a conversation I’ve had with many HR leaders over the last 6 months, brainstorming on how you re-invent and not re-create activities such as onboarding, recognition events and even annual holiday parties. Based on this, I thought I’d share 3 things to keep in mind so that you don’t either scrap these important moments or simply cut and paste them:


1. Think about your overall purpose

Start by understanding why you have this activity or event, and use this as your compass to re-invent the new version of it. For example, is the purpose of your annual recognition event to thank your award winners for their efforts, to make them feel special, to spotlight them to the rest of your organisation, or possibly all of the above? 


2. Map out how to achieve this

Next brainstorm on what you can do to meet the objectives you’ve just agreed on. This is where you need to get creative and, as mentioned above, not merely try to replicate how you did it pre-pandemic. For example, if the purpose of your holiday party was to thank everyone for their contributions during the year and to have fun, find ways to do this virtually. One company I spoke to sent every employee a voucher for pizza, which they’d order and eat as they attended the virtual holiday party, thus making it fun and thanking them. Another company broke people into teams and had a big competition to have fun and bring people together. Get creative, but again, map it back to the purpose.

3. Ask for ideas

Before finalising your plans, as with anything, go out to some or all of your employees to get their thoughts and ideas. As I always say, some of “my” best ideas have come from my workforce.

For example, going back to the gymnastic team, the idea of the big dance party came from the gymnasts and not the coaches. They thought of it, and the coaches supported them in making it happen.

So go out there and create new wonderful memories, and who knows, they may actually be better than those before the pandemic! And, by the way, do share them with me and the world, as we’d love to hear and see what you’ve done.

About the author:

Debra Corey is a highly experienced and award-winning HR leader, world-class speaker, three-time author, consultant, and was named one of the top 101 global employee engagement influencers. She’s had a varied career, working for global companies such as Gap Inc., Merlin Entertainments and Reward Gateway, where she’s developed and delivered HR strategies in a rebellious way, pushing the boundaries and challenging the status quo to truly drive employee engagement.


In 2019 Debra founded her own company, DebCo HR, where as Chief Pay It Forward Solutions Officer she’s inspiring and helping others to bring out their inner rebel and drive business change.

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