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10 November 2016

Bah humbug! 31% of staff ‘don’t have’ a Christmas party to attend

It’s that time of year again when everyone is planning Christmas parties and HR are dreading the fallout.  Certainly, for business owners and office managers, planning the annual festive party is no doubt rising up your to-do list, and if you haven’t booked already then restaurants are filling up fast.

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However new research conducted by Love Energy Savings, interested to find what workers love about office parties,  found that 31% of respondents said their workplace didn’t throw any Christmas party at all.

Of those who did attend events, respondents told researchers:

  • More than one in four people stated that their favourite thing about festive get-togethers was being able to socialise with colleagues.
  • 24% of people said it was the food and drink that enticed them to take part every year.
  • One in 10 people said they enjoyed the opportunity to bond with colleagues in a less formal environment.
  • Finally, 7% of people said they relished the opportunity to get out of the office and do a fun activity during this most wonderful time of the year.

While some bosses view office parties as an unnecessary expense, and often an HR minefield best avoided, by not hosting some kind of Christmas event, you miss out on an opportunity to engage all members of staff in one place, interacting and engaging with one another in a fun environment, which is great for team building.

Phil Foster, Managing Director of Love Energy Savings, advises:

“Employee engagement is a hugely important part of our business, and it really helps to transform your company from good to great. We know that our staff pull out all the stops and work incredibly hard all year round to make Love Energy Savings a success, and we believe that they deserve to be rewarded, relax and celebrate at the end of the year.

“It doesn’t necessarily have to be a huge party. In fact, if you’re a small business, something more intimate and friendly will do far more good for your engagement and happiness levels. Try and think of some ways that your staff can bond with one another, and it will have knock-on effects for the rest of the year.”

Using the research, Love Energy Savings have compiled their top tips for getting the best from your Christmas events.  They suggest:

Make a day of it

  • Why wait until the evening to start celebrating? Organise an ugly Christmas jumper competition and encourage people to wear them all day long. Get a Christmas playlist going with all the classic songs and watch as your staff can’t help but sing along.
  • Why not down tools a couple of hours early on the eve of your Christmas party? Encourage everyone to switch off their computers, put down their pens and mingle with one another. Turn up the music and people are guaranteed to start feeling festive in no time.

By scheduling at least part of the party during working hours, you stand a far better chance of getting everyone involved, which in turn boosts team bonding and more than makes up for any loss of productivity.

Start a Secret Santa

A Christmas tradition like no other, and a great way to get people from other departments talking to one another. And it doesn’t have to cost the earth either!

At your next big meeting, a month or so in advance, get people to pick names out of a hat and make sure they can all keep a secret! Set a small budget for presents, perhaps £5 or £10, and encourage people to see if they can find out what their chosen person would like. On the day, you can either choose to reveal the gift-giver or keep it completely anonymous.

Kick things off in the office

  • Get everyone into the Christmas spirit early by decorating the office. Not only will this cheer people up in the run-up to December 25th, it’s a great way to get people involved. Invite employees to make their own decorations (think colourful paper chains) or get the tallest members of staff to hang things from the ceiling. It’ll really help to set the mood for your Christmas party.
  • If you choose to end the working day a little earlier, you could have everyone gather round a meeting area to judge your Christmas jumper competition. Give out prizes for the best and worst efforts (don’t forget your wooden spoon!) Put out a few nibbles, maybe even a few drinks and watch as the conversation and laughs flow.

Do something different

What did you do last year? Did you pay for everyone to have a meal at a racecourse where you were surrounded by people from dozens of other companies? Whilst there’s nothing wrong with that, why not shake things up and do something completely different this year?

The world really is your oyster when it comes to Christmas parties with a difference; it doesn’t just have to be a sit-down meal and drinks! For that extra spark of employee engagement, why not get your staff involved and have them suggest and vote on ideas? This makes them feel part of the bigger picture and helps to ensure you plan something that people actually want to do.

Here’s a few ideas…

– Paintballing – It might not be everyone’s cup of tea but it’s certainly a tick in the team-building box. If the weather’s not on your side there are plenty of places to shoot paint indoors.

– Cooking / mixology classes – What’s better than a traditional Christmas dinner? Learning how to perfect one yourself! Or, if you’re feeling particularly merry, book your staff onto a cocktail making class and find out who prefers it shaken or stirred.

– Book an exercise class – Whether it’s Zumba or a HIIT workout, get those bodies moving and endorphins flowing with a pre-meal workout. It also gives everyone an opportunity to burn off enough calories to eat as much as they want later!

Don’t be limited by these suggestions. Open the floor up to your employees and see what weird and wonderful ideas they come up with.

Don’t forget the food!

In the excitement of planning something brand new for you all to get involved in, don’t forget about one key part of the party: the food and drink! Again, you could open it up to your employees and get their thoughts – not everyone wants to go out for a formal sit-down dinner.

Ask people to make suggestions, as you may find that the most popular idea is ordering in a few pizzas and playing some Christmas games in the office before you head out. Or you might find a place nearby that is offering a special buffet. Don’t be limited by what you have done in the past, and make this Christmas one to remember.

Foot the bill… Or at least some of it

It’s easy to fall into the trap of throwing a Christmas party simply for the sake of it, but never forget the real reason for putting on a big bash. It’s all about rewarding your employees for the great work that they’ve done over the past 12 months. While it’s not completely unreasonable to ask them to pay for a few drinks once they’ve arrived, you might get a few backs up if you ask people to pay for the entire event.

Kathryn Minchew on Twitter gave her opinion on paying to attend your own work Christmas party…

“Don’t charge people to attend! My husband once worked somewhere and was told it’d cost £35 each. We didn’t go funnily enough.”

It’s easy for employers to only see that costs and potential repercussions, but at least in terms of employee engagement and team building, there are definite advantages too.  Employers who manage to get the balance right will be reaping the benefits long after the party ends.

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