Every year, when the holidays roll around, bosses everywhere are asked about whether there will be celebrations at or after work. Unless your workplace has somebody who is paid to plan events, it may fall on your shoulders as the manager to decide what, if any, company parties there will be. It can be tempting to decide that there will be no more celebrations or parties, if only so that you don’t have to bother with them, but that would be a mistake. So why should you continue to plan company Christmas parties?
If you’ve been in business long, you’ve surely heard talk about the importance of employee appreciation. Like many common business terms, if used too frequently it can become easy to start to forget the meaning and importance of employee appreciation. However, a significant portion of your employee morale comes from how valued your employees feel. Designing events that truly express the value of your teams can actually improve productivity in the weeks that follow. However, this doesn’t simply mean throwing together some cheap decorations and providing snacks. Providing exciting experiences and explaining that they are in response to great work and good results by your employees is what really makes the difference. If you can carry this forward to the workplace, even by simply telling your employees “thank you” when they help you reach success, you will almost definitely notice markedly improved mood and results from them.
In addition to allowing you the opportunity to express gratitude and recognition to your best employees, hosting group events for workers can help them to function better as a team. While having the opportunity to socialize and get to know each other in a somewhat more relaxed environment is certainly positive, the real magic happens when you are able to get people out of the office and get them doing something together. Psychology suggests that shared experiences create emotional bonds between people, even strangers who have very little in common. These experiences can also help the participants to learn about each others’ emotional expressions and responses, which makes them more receptive and understanding to each others’ needs. As you can imagine, this sharing of selves not only brings people closer together, it also makes them a better, more productive team.
Everyone needs some time to unwind on occasion. During the winter holiday season, tensions tend to run high. Depending on the industry you work in, expectations at work tend to either remain at a similar level or increase significantly. On top of the possible increase of work-related stress, the holidays themselves can result in a lot of added pressure. People tend to have less time, less money, and feel the stress and obligation of selecting gifts for what can feel like everyone they know. At the end of the day, this stress is not only bad for everyone’s health and wellbeing, it is also bad for business, as stressed and burnt out employees are less productive. Providing a fun and relaxing evening for your employees can help to alleviate some of this. However, keep in mind that you want to reduce stress instead of adding to it. If you decide to include gift exchanges or potlucks, try to reduce the pressure during this difficult time of year by making these activities optional, or exchanging inexpensive & anonymous “white elephant” gifts instead.
In addition to celebrating the accomplishments of your employees, holiday parties can be a great way to celebrate a successful year for the company at large. Sharing the excitement as well as the credit with the people who made these accomplishments possible is a fantastic gesture, but you can also use the opportunity to inspire your employees. Knowing the success the company has achieved due to their collective efforts can help everyone to look forward to another great year, and can contextualize upcoming goals for the incoming quarter. Delivering these messages concisely and with an appropriate level of enthusiasm is a must, however, unless you want everyone to fall asleep while an analyst reads off a list of dry statistics.
While the many holidays near the close of every year can bring a lot of stress and worry to both our professional and personal lives, it is always worth planning something special to celebrate with your employees. Going out and doing something fun together, even something as simple as sharing a meal, can help to bring teams closer, motivate workers, and allow everyone involved to take a breath and relax. Everyone can appreciate a boss who goes above and beyond to plan something special, and with any luck, you will enjoy yourself as well. Take the leap, plan something nice, and enjoy your fantastic company Christmas party!
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