Let’s face it, holiday parties tend to be lame. No one wants to be forced to hang out with people with whom they already spend too much time. But companies haven’t given up on them for two reasons:
- It’s the perfect time for employers to show appreciation for their employees.
- It’s a golden opportunity to boost morale and team-build before the new year.
Both are pretty powerful goals. So let’s look at how you can redesign your company party to achieve them.
Stop doing this
- Wasting food. Not only is a buffet more expensive than a plated dinner (breakfast or lunch), it also creates more waste. Unless you’re going to invite a bunch of starving people off the streets to enjoy the buffet or make arrangements for the excess to be donated to people who need it, you won’t create any cheer.
- Making the party mandatory. Nothing makes you happier than being told you have to be happy. Right? RIGHT?
- Holding the party during personal time. People need time away from the office. Unless you intend to invite their families to the festivities, don’t ask employees to celebrate during their personal/family time.
Start doing this
- Find out what employees like (and hate). What are their favorite foods? Make those available. What did they enjoy at previous parties? Do that. Stop serving food they’re allergic to or providing entertainment that makes them run for the hills.
- Make them feel appreciated. No one is told they’re doing a good job often enough. How can you do that at the event in a ceremonial way? An easy way to empower employees is to make them feel like their voice is heard. Think about having whiteboards or walls they can write on to express what they’d like to see, do or change at work. Or distribute “raving fan” letters celebrating instances in which they’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty.
- Help them bond. Familiarity doesn’t always breed contempt; it can foster understanding, connection and friendship. But that involves communication. The more you know about someone, the more commonalities you can discover. The more commonalities you discover, the more understanding is engendered. If your workplace is strictly hierarchal or divided into camps, use the party to form teams of people from different divisions or management levels and give them activities. These can be gentle (like sharing secrets and guessing baby photos) or physical (like a full-on office Olympics — chair races, anyone?). Let them connect and laugh a little.
- Make it personal. We know one company that printed the faces of all employees on sheets of Lucite, made a chandelier of them and hung it in the center of the room. You don’t have to get that elaborate, but you get the point. If this gathering is about the employees, find ways in your decor, activities, actions and announcements to make it about them, not about what the boss wants. This is their day. S/he has 364 other days to dictate what happens.
What do you think? What would you like to see at your holiday party this year? Let us hear your ideas in the comment section below.