Well, I am going to come straight out and say it – Harvest nails Christmas parties!
In the last 2 years I have been with the company these have been a highlight. My favourite was donning a wetsuit, taking a boat into the middle of Port Phillip bay and swimming with seals at Chinaman’s Hat then snorkelling at Popes Eye! Unreal! We had so much fun and it created a bond that has never left us.
So, what’s important about a good staff Christmas party?
There’s a few opportunities that make this a worthwhile exercise.
- It’s a chance to thank your employees for the effort they have put in over the year. The Christmas party is an ideal time to acknowledge and celebrate wins and finishes the year off on a positive note. You could give out Thank you awards to individuals, acknowledge the work of a team or get the social club to arrange some crazy awards so it’s a bit fun. When employees and their work are valued, their satisfaction and productivity rises, and they are motivated to maintain or improve their good work. A little like Pavlov’s dogs, people will repeat a behaviour if they get rewarded for it.
- It becomes a ritual to close the year off, much like an exclamation mark. It says to the team ‘We’re done, great job! We underestimate the importance of ritual celebrations in our lives – they are worth investing in. Some anthropologists who have studied this in more depth have discovered that rituals can enhance a sense of belonging and willingness to favour those in their ritual group over others in the organisation. If you have issues with team cohesion in your workplace, why not start some ritual activities(a series of actions in a prescribed order) that build positivity and connectedness? The Christmas Party is a great place to start.
- It makes the employees feel valued. The more valued they feel, the harder they will work. My husband worked for Holden for many years and for 5 years we were in South Australia. Each pay all the employees made a contribution to the social club who then put on a massive family Christmas event on the lovely lawn outside the canteen. This was a highlight for our kids who looked forward to it for months. There were all sorts of rides, baby animals, mini golf, dogs doing an obstacle course, mini train rides, fairy floss, icecreams and lots of quality gifts for different ages – from dolls to remote controlled cars. The best thing was it was all done through vouchers – no money changed hands, so it was so fun to get your voucher pack and plan how man icecreams or cans of drink or burgers you would get! Just the other day, 15 years later, it came up as one of our highlights of working for Holden. It built a sense of celebration as well as community and acknowledged the value of families as well. A fantastic memory. And building memories is also a benefit of the Christmas party so that people who missed out want to be there next time.
- It creates an opportunity for employees to relate to one another on a more personal level. It’s easy at work to just be focused on the task, and some personality types do that more naturally than others. So, its quite possible to go weeks without having a meaningful and personal conversation or connection with another team member. Building team cohesion is a fundamental basis for creating a high performing team. The more trust and respect there is, the better the team will relate on a professional level as well. It’s also great for those who work part time or offsite, to give them a sense of belonging. Also, it meets the need for the social types to play! And they love organising a party! It also gives permission for them to be themselves at work and add some fun to the work environment, which can assist with relieving stress when the pressure is on.
- You can use the Christmas party not only to thank employees for the work they’ve done throughout the year, you can rev them up for the coming year. What a great opportunity to inspire and motivate and prepare them for the next big push. It is also time for senior leaders to connect with team members who they would not normally speak to – this is a great networking opportunity for them. Often senior leaders don’t get a chance to talk to their employees. Getting out and about will help put a name to a face, build credibility and make their communication more effective as the staff will want to know what they have to say.
- Lastly, why wait for Christmas? Why not have an event quarterly? Or if Christmas doesn’t work try an EOFY party – perfect for the finance industry. Look for opportunities to take your team out for a day or Friday afternoon to thank them, celebrate a win, get families together etc. The benefits greatly outweigh the negatives and the opportunities are endless. Get planning!
Written by Meredith Telfer, Careers Specialist, Harvest Human Resources & Recruitment