Affectionately known as ‘the race that stops a nation’, the annual Melbourne Cup horse race is in effect the race that halts two nations, since our friends across the Tasman in New Zealand tend to tune in as well.
Each year, there’s a potential loss of productivity as employees around Australia peel away from their work – perhaps shaving off a little from Australia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, this downtime is likely to be offset by a corresponding boost to consumer expenditure, albeit partly from gambling. And anyway, taking the blinkers off, how does GDP capture the merits of a welcome pre-Christmas boost to the national psyche and workforce morale?
If Melbourne Cup Day is not a public holiday for you, and you are contemplating on hosting an event for employees, here are five considerations to make sure you get a run for your money.
1. Making it a safe bet
Be safe, and put a responsible organiser in charge of the running order. If you conduct business in Australia, you have a duty of care under occupational health and safety legislation and remain responsible for the well being of your employees if they are at an activity organised by their employer. Therefore, if you are going to host a Melbourne Cup event, it makes sense to put a trusted and accountable individual in charge of organising a schedule.
2. Getting a grandstand view
Of course, jockeying for position to watch a horse race is likely to be an underwhelming experience if you and your team cannot see the race clearly. Ensure you have a large television available to screen the race, or at least that you can get to one! The race itself is just two miles, or 3200 metres, long and lasts for only a little over three minutes, but it can be exciting to watch half an hour of build-up to the main event.
3. Chomping at the bits
Australia has embraced its modern multicultural society, and Melbourne Cup day presents a grand opportunity to celebrate this fact. Completing a trifecta of considerations, why not encourage staff to share their international cuisine by bringing a few light snacks? The race doesn’t get off and running until the middle of the afternoon at 3pm, so remind staff that they may not need to bring too much food if they are planning on a lunch break!
4. Dressing to impress
Melbourne Cup Day is always a big event for fashionistas and affords small businesses the chance to have some fun with employees dressing up for the occasion. Prizes for best and creatively dressed can add a fun factor and a lighter mood to the day.
5. Organising a sweepstakes
A light-hearted, inclusive, and thrifty way for small businesses to enjoy the Melbourne Cup race is to engage in a sweepstakes competition, where horse numbers are drawn from a hat. The winning ticket can take a prize, which need not be in the form of cash.
This presents a workable alternative to encouraging staff to gamble. Although it has been claimed that as many as four-fifths of the adult population gamble on Melbourne Cup day, this still leaves a fair proportion of folk who prefer not to punt. A sweepstake can make the race fun without the need to pony up a large bet.
Into the home stretch
As a front-runner in small business, you will intuitively understand the needs and preferences of your staff. The smart money says that although you may not need to take a full afternoon to head off to the races, taking a short timeout to enjoy this national occasion can be a fine way for the team to take a break. And that surely beats missing the fun, hands down!