Many employees look forward to year-end workplace holiday celebrations. These events allow employees to celebrate with their colleagues and sometimes even family and guests. Importantly, these celebrations can also be a great way to drive employee engagement. While these events are often a long-standing company tradition, many organizations canceled holiday parties last year or found ways to connect virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This article explores the current state of companies’ plans for year-end events and offers general best practices for in-person, virtual and alternative ways to celebrate this holiday season.
This year, holiday parties – including in-person celebrations – may be making a comeback. Some key COVID-19 vaccine developments like widespread vaccine availability and workplace vaccine mandates may be driving change in the second holiday season of the pandemic.
According to the firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., which conducts an annual workplace holiday party survey, more employers plan to host an in-person party this year than in 2020. The survey found that:
These findings indicate that many organizations are still determining if they’ll host a party this year, and if so, whether it will be an in-person or virtual celebration.
Holiday parties can positively impact the workplace by boosting employee motivation and engagement and overall team camaraderie. Events can give employees a break from the standard workday and serve as an informal company meeting that instills company values.
Holiday parties also remain a risk for employers – but employer can mitigate undesirable outcomes through effective planning. Regardless of the celebration type, there are some general best practices for employers to keep in mind when planning and hosting a year-end celebration:
Despite the pandemic, there are still ways to celebrate the holiday season as a company. It’ll just require in-depth thought and planning – and some extra creativity.
While many employers opt for an in-person event this year, a pandemic gathering still requires careful planning. When it comes to hosting in-person holiday celebrations, there are some additional best practices to keep in mind:
In-person events will require employers to balance employee engagement with safety and health risks.
This year, employers might decide to host a virtual party for several reasons, such as accommodating a distributed workforce or responding to local COVID-19 transmission rates. Luckily, many activities such as trivia contests, ugly sweater contests and scavenger hunts can be replicated in the virtual environment.
While general party considerations still apply, keep in mind the following best practices specific to virtual celebrations:
Employers know their employees best and can tailor virtual celebrations to accommodate employees’ personal needs and schedules best.
While holiday celebrations can positively impact workplace culture, there is also a case for forgoing a celebration. In addition to safety concerns, these events may have a financial cost, and holiday parties can present risks for employers.
Generally, holiday parties carry a cost, and diverting funds to throwing a celebration may not be an option, especially during the pandemic. Although employees may be disappointed not participating in a holiday party, many employees may appreciate a gift or form of recognition as a replacement for their prized holiday party. Alternative methods for recognizing employees can include:
It’s important to note that employers who typically host an annual celebration – but choose not to do so this year – should consider explaining to employees why throwing a holiday party isn’t feasible. While some employees will be disappointed in this decision, they’ll still appreciate the sincerity and transparency.
As the end of the year approaches, employers find themselves torn between canceling or hosting some type of holiday celebration. Employers should consider what kind of celebration makes sense for their organization, even if that means not having one this year.
Holiday parties can help boost employee engagement, but employers much pay special attention to employee health and safety as the pandemic evolves. As many organizations encounter financial restraints, holiday celebrations are not a requirement by any means. However, employers should consider showing their appreciation for employees in some other way to boost engagement and morale.
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