HR professor


Your Office Party Need Not Be a Drain on Your Resources

If there is a good occasion to celebrate, don't hesitate to party. An office party have more than a social angle to the celebration. It helps people network, teams reinforce their strengths, and employees feel a part of the bigger organizational vision. A company that does not celebrate events is considered detached and indifferent towards employees.

An office party has nothing to do with the boss' birthday or the colleagues' marriage anniversary. These are private celebrations where office colleagues could be invited. You can throw an office party to celebrate the accomplishment of a project, the corporate success in a particular field, achievement of team goals within an organization or distinction awarded to the company by reputed establishments. Here, a part or the whole workforce would be involved directly or indirectly in accomplishing the feat. Hence the celebration is rightfully due to every employee who has been a part of the accomplishment.

An office party is also a vehicle for bosses to win over disgruntled employees. Celebrations make people leave aside their personal differences and join in the celebrations. You would find that the mere mention of an office party makes the mood in the office upbeat and people feel invigorated to work hard.

However, having an office party is not everybody's cup of tea. An event which brings together line and staff in one location needs to be planned carefully. I know a lot of bosses who fret about throwing a party. They fear that:
  • the costs will go spiraling out of their hands,
  • the employees will become less task conscious,
  • the employees may expect more parties in the future or
  • the party would not live up to the expectations of the employees.
However, the positives that one can garner by holding an official celebration override these hypothetical negatives. Yes, costs could go spiraling out of your hand. But you need not hold an office party in the conventional sense. Trying to include all the frills and fancies in an office party would indeed send your party budget skyrocketing. Be innovative in the idea of celebration.

Alcohol and food are not the only definitions of a celebration. For instance, you can surprise your staff with a trip to a beach and have a small picnic. Or you could treat your employees with 'lunch-on-the-house' and order pizza or Chinese food. Here the costs can be minimal and the celebration would be a welcome change!

That employees will become less task conscious is only a myth. On the contrary, I would say that such celebrations give a much needed break from the daily routine and helps employees to stay focused on their tasks and stay committed.

It is a good idea to involve employees in the celebrations. Get them to organize the food, party decorations and make the invite list. Of course, with the freedom comes the responsibility. Give them a restricted party budget. Very often, employees come up with creative solutions to make a great party. The best part is that you will not have any whining employees as all of them would have been involved in organizing the party celebrations (except in deciding the budget, of course).

As far as possible, avoid alcohol in office premises. You don't want inebriated employees to lose control and create ugly scenes. Nor do you want them to drive while being high and run into accidents.

Celebrations if done properly can be a great source of motivation and a key for employee retention. The workplace becomes less hostile and it fosters a healthy competitive environment for all employees.

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