I was a little surprised by the results of a study that recently came across my desk: Fewer companies plan to host holiday celebrations this year than at any time in the past 22 years, according to Amrop Battalia Winston, which has been tracking holiday party trends since 1989. Seventy-nine percent of businesses surveyed this year say they will hold some type of holiday celebration, down from 81 percent in both 2009 and 2008.
What’s the reason for the Scrooge-like attitude on the part of some businesses? It’s not all about money; just 27 percent are nixing the party to cut costs. But more than half (55 percent) of those who aren’t planning a party say it’s “not appropriate” to celebrate in today’s economy. In contrast, 37 percent of those hosting an event are doing it to celebrate a good 2010, 33 percent to boost employee morale, and 29 percent to show their optimism about 2011.
Personally, I think making it through these past few challenging years is reason enough to celebrate. So if you can afford it, it just seems foolish to me not to host some type of holiday event.
I’m a big believer in letting employees know how much you value them. Especially in today’s economy, when your staff is working long and hard to help your business succeed, what’s more “appropriate” than giving them some type of reward? While a holiday party may seem like a small thing, it’s an important occasion for bonding, team-building and looking forward.
Worried that your staff will criticize you for spending money on a holiday party when they’d rather have cash? If that’s a concern, use the money you would have spent on a caterer for bonuses—but don’t skip the event altogether. Have everyone chip in to hold a holiday potluck or cake baking contest. Get your employees involved in planning, and it just might be one of the most fun times you ever have.
Celebrating sends an optimistic message. And in fact “optimism” seems to be key here. In announcing the results of the survey, Amrop Battalia Winston CEO Dale Winston noted, “There remains a deep divide in organizations’ economic outlook and how they perceive their 2010 performance. Fundamentally, those having holiday parties this year are much more optimistic about the year ahead, while those not having parties are more pessimistic.”
There’s an old saying every salesperson knows: “Fake it till you make it.” In other words, it’s important to present a good face to the world—and that includes your employees. If you don’t feel confident enough to host some sort of holiday celebration, what does that say about your business’s future?
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I totally agree on the “Employee Appreciation” factor of a Christmas Party. Letting your staff know (as a group) that they’re appreciated sends a very strong message to your team.
You couldn’t be more right Rieva. Sure you may not be “celebrating” the fact that your company is barely scratching by but you can have an event that shows appreciation for the hard work being contributed. Sure you don’t want to appear inconsiderate with so many failed businesses and high unemployment, but you do want to acknowledge effort and sacrifices. Don’t be such a Scrooge people!
Thank you for this post. It is more important than most companies recognize.
For example, in my last position, we only had a holiday party if we created one on our own. Our CEO never participated and actually discouraged it. He also disapproved of decorations of any kind. Needless to say, morale around the holidays was terrible and we felt totally unappreciated in our work. Early on, we used to get a small bonus, but that was discontinued when the company grew larger with nothing in its place.
It is amazing the difference in a workplace when staff feels appreciated. Not only morale is increased, but productivity, error rates, absenteeism, and more are all equally affected.
Great post! Thank you.