One way to bring together a bunch of diverse people is to have a celebration together; and most office holiday parties do exactly that. They bring together a number of people who don’t usually interact with each other, put out a lavish spread and let the holiday spirit do the rest.
But sometimes, when these office holiday parties become more about the spectacle rather than the purpose, the meaning behind them gets lost. We should also remember that year by year, our workplaces are getting more diverse.
So many different employees from various backgrounds and ethnicities. If you want to foster engagement, then you have to do it in a way that includes all your employees, not just some of them.
So this year, instead of a big blowout, how about an inclusive alternative to the annual office holiday party?
Volunteer A Day/ Give Back
A great way to celebrate holidays is to give back to those less fortunate than ourselves. This could involve volunteering at shelters/non-profits, or matching donations to a charity of choice, or even hosting fundraising activities for a charity of choice.
Ensure that people are not forced into donating or giving back. Budgets are stretched tighter than usual during the holidays and it is unfair to expect everyone in a organization to donate generously. Let employees figure out how much they’d like to donate or help them figure out how else they can contribute. You never know, sometimes, the act of giving back could even be about helping someone in your own organization!
Short Trip Away
How about a short two-day trip? A short trip can easily bring together employees and have them enjoy each other’s company without the cloud of a fancy party hanging over them. Fun activities such as travelling, adventure sports, hiking, camping etc have the effect of bringing people together through the simple act of teamwork and making them feel comfortable around each other.
If you have a small enough team of people, then office potlucks are a great way to replace the office holiday party. Not only does this allow employees to showcase their diverse background through the dishes they bring to the potluck, but it also allows employees to get to know each other over a simple meal and distributes effort evenly throughout the group.
This way, it’s not only the HR/Admin department that is tasked with throwing together a big bash and not even being able to partake in the festivities.
Small, Cozy Get Together
What if you are a fledgling start up with a very small team or your organization just does not have the budget for a blow out bash? What are you going to do then? In that case, a small intimate get-together is a great way to bring everyone together without having to over stretch yourselves. Stripped of all finery and stuffiness, at an intimate get together be it over wine and cookies or movies and popcorn, employees can just kickback without having to worry.
Ugly Costume Day / Zaniest Desk Decoration/Fun Events
You can schedule more fun events in the days leading up to the holidays, except they don’t really have to be holiday themed. For instance, ugly sweaters is a fun way for everyone to look wacky instead of their best. Cubicle/desk decoration contests pit employees against each other in the most fun way possible without any underlying expense. Fun events bring employees together without the added stress of having to make small talk for an hour or more. Moreover, they give shy/quiet employees a chance to participate without the stress of having to be social.
Ditch The Moniker, Just Call It A Party
If you have the budget for a big blow-out, then go for it by all means. But call it an annual get-together. Strip it of its holiday connotations and just turn it into a giant meet and greet for all employees in the organization. That way, you get to have a big party and you can also ensure that there’s something for everybody in it!