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Pre Work Assemblies: Boosting Employee Morale the Chinese Way!



Have you ever walked past a hotel, restaurant, hairdressers or any other everyday place of commerce in China and wondered why dozens of people are assembled outside being dictated in military fashion to by their boss? If you have been in the country for a while then you may even have seen them doing exercise or dance routines. And if you have never seen such an event, it surely won’t be long until you do!

The first time one sees these staff gatherings taking place, the things that come to mind are that there has either been a fire in the kitchen or a severe telling off of the entire team is in full swing. You will usually see the uniform clad waiting and kitchen staff of a restaurant lined up in front of a stern manager who proceeds to give a very loud speech (or a passionate one- depending how you look at things). 

Mr. Liu, the operations manager of a big Tianjin hotel, told us that “the pre work assemblies are nothing to do with enforcing rules or controlling staff members. In fact, they are the opposite; we do them to make everyone feel like their working day is a mission and they are all part of a team”.

The managers’ inspirational speech format is just one of the ways in which companies build staff cohesion and morale. Many pre work assemblies include chants, exercise routines and/or elaborate dance performances. In the latter case, one cannot help but wonder if this is as much geared towards drawing in customers as it is to giving the workers a lift before work. Nevertheless, it is fascinating for the outside observer!

These pre work assemblies are one of the very many things about Chinese culture which are incredibly intriguing yet very little has been written about them (in English at least). Search engines and the blogosphere will render very few results. Yet they are fairly ubiquitous occurrences around China and there is plenty of video footage online. If you work for a company that is not currently having pre work assemblies, why not suggest it to your boss and help to boost staff morale the Chinese way?!


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