A Strategic Approach to Holiday Parties

There is at least an 88 percent chance you are hosting a holiday party, according to Employers Council survey data. While it may seem like this is merely a fun activity – it is not necessarily the case. Pitfalls lurk around almost every corner and can leave quite the holiday party hangover.

If strategy means, “relating to the identification of long-term or overall aims and interests and the means of achieving them,” as defined on Google, it would seem that your purpose for the holiday party is to promote goodwill among employees. If you have a different strategic purpose, such as, “we are having a holiday party because we have always had a holiday party,” you may want to reframe your strategy and determine what benefits you want to get from the party.

Assuming generating goodwill among employees is the goal, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • If the holiday party has followed a predictable pattern for more than five years, consider if it is a great tradition that everyone loves or something people would like to see change a bit. Not all employees will feel the same, and so gathering a general sentiment is key. Be sure to keep an open mind to the answers.
  • If someone does not want to attend, do not insist on it. Insisting on attending a party creates two things: resentful employees and a possible claim for overtime pay.
  • Some people know how to throw a great party. In most every organization, some folks just know how to plan a great party where people enjoy themselves, and everyone feels included. These people generally enjoy planning parties. Instead of requiring a particular employee in a particular role to plan the party, see if there are those willing to be on a planning committee. This can be nearly as enjoyable as the party is – so long as parameters, including budget, dates, time, and location, are set in advance. For more planning tips, consider our article on holiday parties from 2018.
  • Avoid legal aftershocks. Workplace parties and too much alcohol do not mix, and it certainly raises the possibility of legal action due to employee injuries. Upset stomachs, harassment, and car accidents are all foreseeable, so if they happen, the employer may be held responsible. These also take away from the goal: goodwill among employees. Prevention is the key to guarding against these outcomes. Limiting drinks through drink tickets and providing free cab or rideshare rides are two measures that can avert disaster. If someone is engaging in harassing behavior, the employer will need to put a stop to it and take appropriate follow-up action.

Knowing what to expect and planning for your holiday party will make the difference between fond memories of an event or a headache before, during, and afterward. In either case, give Employers Council a call. We have been helping plan fantastic parties for 80 years!