Remember, this time of year is not just for celebrating Christmas. To be sure you create an inclusive office party, consider the timing and title of your celebration. Consider branding it an End-of-the-year or New Year party. You can focus on the organization’s accomplishments over the previous year, not a holiday. Whatever you do, steer clear of calling it a “holiday party,” consider a winter/New Year theme with snowflakes, icicles, balloons, streamers, and confetti if you want it to be seasonal.
Location is important; everyone should have the chance to be included. Find ways to recognize all employees, regardless of where they work. If you have out of state employees, consider a virtual option for participation. Consider a virtual seasonal sweater or best decorated desk contest.
Food needs to be inclusive too and not related to a single cultural event. A fun way to include everyone is to have employees bring their favorite dish to share with a write-up on its ingredients and seasonal significance. If you choose to provide alcohol, also include a mocktail bar for those that do not drink.
Don’t unnecessarily spend on company gifts. However, showing genuine appreciation is important. Employees prefer to have options to choose what gift fits them best. A catalog of options, including tangible and experience gifts, based on points an employee receives through the year gives autonomy in gift selections. Think of items/experiences that will build a connection between employees and your organization that they will remember.
Help your employees avoid office party pitfalls. Recirculate your anti-harassment policy prior to the party. Inviting a Santa to have employees “sit on his lap” or hanging mistletoe is probably a bad idea. Do not include a dance floor in order to prevent inappropriate interactions. If complaints do arise from the gathering, give a prompt and thorough response to resolve the issue.
Lastly, about ⅓ of employees actually enjoy office parties, ⅓ are indifferent, and ⅓ don’t like them. Talk to your employees about their preferences. Therefore, you could replace the party altogether for an alternative event, team building, or service project. Think about attending a sporting event, going bowling, attempting an escape room, or painting your own pottery party.
Whatever you decide, show gratitude to your employees and celebrate the year you’ve had together.
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