The Company Holiday P-A-R-T-Y (why)?

Ahhhh … it’s that time of year again when companies may feel inclined to celebrate the holidays with a company party. Do you work for one of those companies?

Holiday_PartyI know after 2008, many companies opted out of the annual celebration for economic reasons, but there are those who are still offering this time of group merriment.

I wonder — is it worth it?

If the intent is to offer employees an event to relax and enjoy time with work colleagues in a party-like atmosphere, are you sure that is something the employees find fun and motivating? For some, they spend plenty of time at work and so forced social time with work colleagues may not feel so festive.

Hey – don’t get me wrong. I’m all for fun times with people I enjoy and the holidays are a good reason to throw a party. However, not all employees see this as something fun and view it more as a painful obligation to show up so they don’t get put on the “naughty list”.

I question if it’s the BEST way to spend money in an effort to motivate and engage employees.

I think it’s great to have the team get together for a lunch out or do a pot-luck type of gathering. But, if a company is spending thousands on a big party, maybe it’s worth evaluating the real value gained. Is there is a better way to use those funds?

Instead of spending that lump sum on a party, what about dividing that same amount by leader/manager and give them the budget to do something that may be more meaningful for their people?

Here are some other options to consider:

  • Give team members a bonus and a 1/2 day off to go shopping … or maybe just time off!
  • Buy gift cards that can be used in a way that is relevant for that employee, (i.e. movie passes, restaurant cards, retailers, etc.).
  • Send food (e.g., ham, turkey, fruit, sweets) to each employees’ home so the entire family can enjoy it.

If there is a company party and you feel inclined to attend, here are a few guidelines about how to make the most of the experience:

  • Mix and mingle – don’t just stick around the people you see everyday. Try to meet at least 2 new people … you can even ask those you know to introduce you to someone you don’t know. You want to demonstrate your polished social skills so strike up a conversation by showing interest in others … NOT droning on about what you do.
  • Have a good time, but DON’T HAVE THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE! We’ve all heard of or observed those folks that drink too much, get sloppy and say or do something they regret. Don’t be that guy/gal! Stick with the 1-2 drink rule and remember you’re at a business event.
  • Be gracious and thank those that organized and hosted the event … this is most likely senior leadership. It’s a perfect excuse to introduce yourself and offer thanks and appreciation. That small interaction can go a long way in how they remember you.

It’s important to take time to relax and celebrate over the holidays. People have different preferences in how they celebrate. What can be most meaningful is a genuine connection and sincere well-wishes.

Make time to connect with each person and let them know how they contribute and add value. That won’t cost a dime!

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Martha Duesterhoft is a Partner with PeopleResults. Follow her on Twitter @mduesterhoft or connect via email at