HRM Five: Holiday celebrations at the office

Your guide to organising holiday revels for your employees.

According to a recent survey by global outplacement consultants Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc, four of five companies will be holding holiday celebrations this year – and a fifth of those plan to spend more on their events.

But successful holiday celebrations aren’t just about big-budget parties at posh locations and a limitless bar. Read on to find out more about curating an enjoyable festive experience for your employees.


  1. Get everyone on board.

    Getting into the holiday spirit starts from the top. Nobody wants to be tied down to their desk by deadlines by a boss who is more like Scrooge than Santa, while everyone else is breaking Christmas crackers or cracking open bottles of champagne.

    Of course, business needs come first, but the holiday season is also seen as a much needed respite from the regular rigours of business life. Even if deadlines need to be adhered to, try to work with your leadership and middle management to find a time where everyone can be afforded a short breather.


  1. Use it as an opportunity for reflection.
    As the year wraps up, there’s no better time to take stock and recognise the good work that has been accomplished by the talent that drives your business. But don’t just think about the good – it’s worth acknowledging the things that didn’t work so great, and make concrete resolutions about fixing those things, and doing better in the future.

    Just be sure to stay positive: the new year also represents new beginnings, and the atmosphere in the office will be healthier if you can start it on a positive note.


  1. It’s not about being fancy.
    Of course, you can’t go wrong with good food and drink, but don’t get caught up in the optics of the event at the expense of everything else.

    It helps to start with an idea of what you’d like the gathering to accomplish, and working with people from across the organisation to figure out the specifics.

    You might be surprised to find that people would prefer to have lunch together at a nice pub, rather than a black-tie winter ball – and even that will likely feel hollow if you decide to skip this year’s festive bonus.


  1. Small gestures count
    Half the fun of the festive season is the build up to the actual holidays. Hanging up some pretty lights and bunting up at the beginning of December doesn’t have to cost very much – but it’ll do wonders for lightening the mood among employees.

    Likewise, if you don’t have the budget for a big blow-out party, why not explore cheaper ways to improve the workplace for the next year? For instance, a brand new coffee machine will probably be very much welcomed and celebrated.


  1. Gamification is never a bad thing

    Who doesn’t like a bit of friendly competition? Here at HRM Asia, we have an annual festive decorations contest where each department competes to out-do the others in sprucing up their respective corners of the office.

    If you want something less intense, an ugly sweater competition is a great alternative – or even a holiday bake-off. Gingerbread cookies, latkes and panettone are just a few of the goodies people can bring along, and each represent different cultures. It’s a fun way for people to share their personal traditions while bonding over food.


Yamini Chinnuswamy offers five important points on everything you wanted to know about HR practices today, but were too afraid to ask. Check out previous editions of HRM Five here.

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