Over the past weekend, we had our annual holiday party at Top Golf. If you haven’t been to one of the locations it is a ton of fun even if you aren’t good at golf. As I talk with people from companies both large and small, many of them have ‘cut back’ and opted to either not have a holiday party or do something very informal at work. After our annual holiday party, it reminded me that these gatherings are more than just a ‘party’, and that many companies underestimate how gatherings like these may positively affect the people within their organization. So, what is the value of having a holiday party?
You need to recognize that the holiday party may not be a ‘relaxing’ night out on the town for some of the people who attend the event. While forced social time with work colleagues is a fun thing for some people, for others it’s just another obligation so you don’t get put on the bosses s**t list. However, if the party is done right, there is a ton of real worth that can be brought to your company and your bottom line.
- Meeting Partners and Spouses– When you are working hard at your job and sometimes having heavy travel on the road, you may not even get to see your own family as much as you would like. While you will see your work colleagues almost every day, how often do you get to know the spouses or partners of the people you work with side by side? These holiday gatherings are a wonderful opportunity to learn about what is happening with your co-workers’ children, hear about their vacations, and even swap stories that may help one another. Many years ago, I would have a spousal/partner breakfast 2 to 3 times per year simply to bring people together to get to know each other. There is great value in friendships that are made and evolve outside of the workplace from these informal holiday gatherings.
- Boost Morale– While I’m certain it still happens at some parties, nobody wants to win the lampshade award anymore at a holiday party. Your holiday soiree is a wonderful opportunity to tell stories about funny times that you all had together, share something interesting that happened during the year, and even have some time to just get to know your own co-workers. It’s not often that you just get to cut loose a little bit and dress up to have some plain old fun. We even got to see how some women can hit a golf ball pretty good in heels!
- Give Recognition- We have given serious awards for top people in the company for a long time at our holiday parties, and even had a few years where we gave some funny awards out to people. You might have monthly meetings at work where people win top employee or top salesperson. You may even have company conferences where awards are given out as well. However, it isn’t the same as when all of the spouses and partners see the awards handed out right in front of everyone.
- Share The Future– It’s not often that you can get all of the people in the company and their families in front of you for a speech to thank them for everything they have done, but also share a little bit about the future of where you are going. We don’t spend enough time telling the people we lead where we are going. This is a tremendous informal opportunity during a very festive occasion to tell people why your company is going straight to the top. That is of course unless you are number one already, then you can tell them why you are going to stay on top!
You can buy people a gift card. You can pay them a ‘holiday’ bonus. You can give them a shopping spree. You can even give them an extra day off. Years from now, the questions is what will they remember? Memories. Good Times. Laughs With Their Co-Workers. They will remember all of these more than just a few bucks in the bank. Think about these tips the next time your company is considering abolishing the holiday party.
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Ted Jenkin is a frequent guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Headline News Weekend Express. He is the co-CEO of oXYGen Financial. You can follow him on LinkedIn @ www.linkedin.com/in/theceoadvisor or on Twitter @tedjenkin.