Office Holiday Parties: Important Considerations

It’s that time of year when most companies do something for their staff to celebrate the holidays and thank them for their hard work all year. There are so many ways to celebrate: simply catering a lunch in the office on the last day of work before the holiday or going “all out” and throwing a dinner and dancing event in a ballroom. Whatever it is you choose to do this holiday season, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Is attendance at the event voluntary or are you expecting everyone to be there? How are you messaging the event? Invitation or announcement?
  • How do individual religious beliefs fit in to the celebration and traditions of the holiday?
  • What is expected, if anything, of the management staff at the event?
  • Will you be providing alcohol at the event? Think about the implications that go hand in hand with an event with alcohol.
  • For those employees unable to make it because they are working; will you provide an alternative so they feel included?
  • What are your overall expectations of employees and their behaviors at such an event?

While these events are always meant to be fun and celebratory, it can often be uncomfortable or tension filled for certain employees. Not everyone is comfortable in a social setting, especially when you mix your professional life with your personal life. If spouses or guests are included, that adds a whole other dynamic to the mix. Think about previous holiday celebrations; what worked and what wasn’t as successful. It is often a good idea to poll the staff or a handful of folks and ask their opinions on a couple different kinds of options. If only a small group of upper managers are deciding and planning the event, they may be missing the mark on what the entire staff enjoys.

In any case, the company’s good intentions are what should shine through. Be sure that it’s clear to your employees that you appreciate their hard work. The goal is to celebrate in a way that the majority of the team can enjoy.

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