It is that time of year already. The leaves have changed, the air has cooled, some radio stations have decided they need 12 weeks of holiday music instead of 12 days. It is also the time for holiday parties, to celebrate your workforce and show them how much they are appreciated with a big party at the end of the year.
Here are 6 steps to make sure your party is successful and that parties in the future continue to keep your staff filled with joy over the holiday season.
Provide adequate notice in advance – During the holiday season, calendars can fill up quickly. If your holiday party is not during working hours, you should provide employees with as much advanced notice as possible. It will allow them to add it to their calendar and RSVP prior to other commitments taking up their time.
Communicate clearly – When you provide clear communications to the employees about the holiday party, it allows them to make well-informed choices on their decision to attend or not. Holiday surprises can be fun for family, but it can make employees uneasy.
Here’s an example: A fun company thought it would be great to have a holiday party with a secret theme. When everyone arrived, the room was set up like a casino, and everyone was given fake money to spend. It seemed like everyone had a blast. However, two employees that go to gamblers anonymous were not impressed with the surprise theme and left very upset. They would not have traveled to the holiday party if they had known the theme.
Communicating clearly about the date, time, place, dress, theme, menu, schedule, expectations and even prizes can help employees have a better understanding of what they are attending, and they’ll appreciate the openness.
Poll employees on what they want – It is common that an internal events team will brainstorm and put together the holiday party. If it is a moderate success, variations of that team will continue to do similar things year after year. However, just because that’s what employees are given; it may not be what employees want.
Here’s an example: A private insurance company held a large lavish party for all the employees each year during the holidays. The owners treated employees to some of the finest dining for one night, with high-end cocktails – a truly indulgent experience. They felt it was a night they could give their employees a taste of luxury. However, after years of this, and dwindling participation, they polled their employees and found it made most of their employees uncomfortable. Their staff, largely made up of customer service and call center employees, felt so far removed from this affluent lifestyle party, they preferred not to go. The employees polled wanted a small, potluck-style party where they could talk to one another and have fun together. The executives elected to use the excess budget for more prizes and bigger holiday bonuses.
When you understand what employees want, they will be more willing to engage. You need to ask first though in order to know.
Find ways to engage and cross-pollinate departments – You will find that most departments tend to congregate together. It’s human nature. You gather with those you know. These events are a great way to help departments get to know one another outside the work scene. Try and find different games so that individuals can get outside their department and talk to others. It may foster future friendships.
Consider allergies – If you are having food served, consider that you may have employees with allergies or dietary restrictions on staff. Provide a menu prior to the event and if needed, a nutrition guide/allergen guide. Allow employees to state they need a meal that is vegan, gluten free, nut free, dairy free, shellfish free, diabetic friendly, etc. It may be a large list, but your employees’ safety is important.
Offer alternative ways home or overnight accommodations – Evening soirees are all fun and games until someone gets hurt. If your holiday party is at night, far from where most employees live, or there will be alcoholic drinks served, make sure there are alternate plans for employees. Map out local hotels and have the rates available. Many hotels will be willing to offer group rates if enough employees register beforehand. Have coupons for a rideshare or cab program and consider perks like a $5 gas card or a Starbuck’s coupon for designated drivers. Making sure your most valuable assets get home safe after a night made to appreciate them is imperative to future fun holiday parties.
Finally, at the end of the night, make sure you and your employees are respectful to all those that are serving you. The staff that set up, serve and clean up are giving up this time with their families so that your employees can have a lovely time. Take a moment to thank them publicly before the end of the night. They will thank you and people still partying may be a little more appreciative of their time and effort as well.