The Holiday Office Party Is This Season’s Comeback Kid

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It’s baaack!

The dreaded/exciting/boring/fun/awkward/fill-in-the-blank holiday office party!

Like a variety of other social functions, the holiday office party, for the most part, took a hiatus during the Covid-19 pandemic and Omicron resurgence. While some organizations tried to keep the holiday spirit alive via a Zoom or FaceTime call, the typical in-person holiday office party went by the wayside. But now, some business experts say it’s coming back.

“Like many other things in a post-pandemic world, one of the biggest reasons to expect a blockbuster office holiday party season is pent-up demand,” says RSVPify, an event management and ticketing platform, about 2022. “Throw in the fact that office holiday parties (unlike retreats, conventions, or other more formal events) offer a relaxed and celebratory environment by nature, and it’s the perfect storm of demand and opportunity.” 

The return of workplace parties to celebrate the holiday season also checks a couple of boxes on the employee morale list. A holiday event gives employers an opportunity to reward and recognize staff in person, which could be especially important considering the bleakness of the last few years. It also provides a forum for the organization to come together in person at a time when many people are working remotely or splitting their time between the office and home. In fact, a holiday work party might be the first time new employees rub shoulders with management and meet co-workers in person.

If you’re invited to a holiday office party this year, it’s important to keep in mind some dos and don’ts to ensure the celebration is enjoyable, successful and ends well for all involved. But before we address those tips, let’s discuss one of the first questions that comes to many people’s minds when they get the invitation: Should I go?

For every employee who is excited about the idea of getting together with co-workers at the holidays, there is another who shares an equal and opposite reaction. Whether they find such events stressful, boring, a waste of time or all of the above, not everyone looks forward to social work gatherings. Still, the prevailing thought is that attending such events is important because they offer valuable networking opportunities, as well as a chance for employees to see and be seen.

Before heading out to the party, however, make sure you know some critical details that could make or break the event. For instance, find out what the dress code is, ask whether you are allowed to bring a spouse, date or friend and determine the agenda for the party, so you know what to expect. Will a sit-down dinner be served or just appetizers and drinks? What do you need to bring, if anything? How long before you can respectfully duck out and call it a night?

While the following tips may seem to be no-brainers, it never hurts to take a look at the dos and don’ts for a successful workplace gathering:

  • Do keep things professional. In the end, it’s still a work function and you need to act accordingly.
  • Don’t drink too much, don’t hog the spotlight and don’t use the event to complain or talk office politics.
  • Do talk about other things besides work. The whole idea is to take a break from the routine and get to know your fellow employees in a more casual and relaxed environment.
  • Don’t flirt or cross the line when it comes to interpersonal relationships. Again, it’s still a work event.
  • Do thank those who planned and paid for the party. They’re as busy as everyone else during the holiday season and it’s nice to recognize them for their efforts.

If you don’t think you can stick to these simple rules or act in a way that makes others glad you came, you might want to reconsider the earlier discussion on whether to attend or not and stay home.

As an employer, if a holiday office party still doesn’t feel like the right option for you and your staff, you might want to look at other ways to show your employees you value them. There’s no need to throw a big party when your staff would actually prefer getting together in smaller work units, receiving gift cards or bonuses or donating to charitable causes. And remember, some folks may prefer to pass on any holiday activity altogether because they don’t celebrate the season.

 

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