My grandfather started a business in the 1940s, right after World War II ended. On Christmas Eve, he would close the business at noon and host a party for his employees. Unfortunately, he started getting complaints because the employees, who were mostly men at the time, would end up arriving home much later than usual and in no state to help their wives or other family members with any Christmas preparations. What started as a good notion as a way to thank his employees and get into the holiday spirit ended up not working out as planned. His office Christmas parties eventually evolved to including spouses and being held after work hours.
The work Christmas party is almost something of a legend. We hear cringe-worthy stories of staff members embarrassing themselves by either having too much to drink or by thinking too highly of their dancing skills. Or, we hear people groaning about having to attend their work party during an already busy season. In fact, the work Christmas party has become such as part of American culture that in 2016 a film was released based on the concept, aptly titled Office Christmas Party
Why Your Business Should Host a Holiday Party
As a business owner or manager, you need to decide if you are going to celebrate the holiday season with your employees, and how you will do so. The first thing to evaluate is why you might want to do a little something extra during the month of December. Here a few reasons for why it is good to do so.
It’s a great way to say “thank you”
Throwing a party for your employees is a perfect way to thank them for all of the hard work that they have put in over the year. However, in order for the thank you to be genuine and effective, you shouldn’t charge your employees to attend the gathering.
Parties boost employee morale
A party will help employees to feel appreciated and like they are part of the team. This, in turn, will result in motivating employees throughout the rest of the year.
Increase staff camaraderie
Holiday parties are a great way for staff to get to know each other a little better, and engage in conversations that don’t necessarily revolve around work related topics. In some companies, certain departments hardly ever interact with each other, which makes the opportunity to do so even more important. If you have remote employees–don’t forget to include them in the fun!
Can help you get to know employees (and their families) better
Not only will your staff be able to create deeper bonds, as a leader, you can also benefit from the more relaxed atmosphere and learn more about your employees. For example, who knew that the operations manager, Gina, also teaches figure skating on Saturdays?
Are families and plus ones included in the party? Get to know them too. Learning details about employees’ lives and their families and remembering them will go a long way in building a strong bond with your staff.
Why Not? (Host an Office Holiday Party)
This is a major road block for most businesses. Hosting a big company Christmas party with an open bar, door prizes, and full sit down meal at an off-site venue can get pretty pricey. Many small business just can’t handle that financial burden. If you can’t handle it, you shouldn’t do it. Before making the final decision on Christmas party, make sure to talk it over with your controller, accountant, and any other pertinent managers.
Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way: Other Alternatives
That said, there are some more budget friendly alternatives that will allow you to celebrate the season, thank your employees, and still stay within your company’s budget.
Hold the party at another time of the year
Off site venues such as restaurants and hotels might be more likely to have reduced rates in January or other times of the year. Do some research to find if a “post Christmas” party may work better for you. Another plus? People are usually less busy once the chaos of December is over.
Holiday trolley ride
If your local community has a trolley, check with them about renting the trolley for an hour or two one evening to do a Christmas light tour of the neighborhood. Invite significant others and families, and provide hot chocolate and cookies for the ride.
Give out a Christmas Bonus
Instead of spending the money on a gathering, hand out Christmas bonuses instead.
Organize a Company Gift Exchange
White elephant, Secret Santa…however you want to do it. You don’t need a big party in order to have some gift giving fun at work.
Bring in breakfast
When bagels are in the break room, how long do they usually last? Probably not very. Breakfast is always a good idea. As a way to say thank you and happy holidays provide some delicious breakfast foods for your employees. This could mean an elaborate catered sit down breakfast, a bag of donuts, or something in-between. Try picking up some good coffee and cream as well.
Volunteer at a Local Charity
Create that sense of employee camaraderie while also doing some good. Organize a time for your staff to have the opportunity to all serve a local charity together. This could be during or after work hours. Remember though–if it’s off the clock, employees should feel no pressure to come.
Set Up a Cookie Exchange
Do you have some talented bakers in the office? Decide that one day will be for cookie exchanging (and of course, sampling!)
Order Pizza (or subs, etc…)
Ordering in subs or pizza for lunch is simple, fairly inexpensive, and still appreciated.
What do you think? Are office holiday parties a thing of the past? Are you hosting one this year?
Looking for financial advice for your business? Contact us at Lumen Advisory and Finance.