Don't cancel the Christmas party

This year many companies aren't bothering with a Christmas party - but they may live to regret it...

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Normally, we’d be right in the middle of Christmas party season – but after a tumultuous year, many businesses have decided that they’re better off hanging onto their pennies. However, the danger is that you’ll miss out on an excellent opportunity to reward and motivate the hard-working staff that have been plugging away for you all year – and they’ll lose a great opportunity to press the flesh...

In the circumstances, it’s not surprising that companies are shying away from lavish parties this year. Businesses are being constantly told to preserve cash – and many have decided that it’s unseemly to be celebrating as Rome (well, the City) burns. But are they looking at it the wrong way? ‘In the current economic climate it is crucial for managers to ensure that their team feel valued and motivated,’ says Penny de Valk, CEO of the Institute of Leadership and Management. Holding a party boosts morale, because it shows you’re not taking people’s efforts for granted, she says.

What’s more, parties don’t have to cost an arm and a leg. The ILM has helpfully dreamed up a list of ten ways to do your party on the cheap – including having the party in your office (using managers as serving staff), picking BYOB venues, adopting an eco theme (changing Secret Santa for a swap-shop) or even having a kids-style party – instead of booze, offer your staff crisps, cakes, jammy dodgers, and get someone to bring in their Nintendo Wii ‘for an afternoon of fun and games’. Though we’re a little dubious about whether this would actually be good for morale, or just make you look like a skinflint...

Not that we’re suggesting that people only see the Christmas party as an excuse to get drunk at their company’s expense, of course. In fact, according to a new survey by Orange Business Services, more than a third of us see the event as a perfect opportunity to network with the top brass – although only a measly 4% actually do anything about it. Indeed, laments Orange, 70% of us don’t ‘prepare’ for the party at all – i.e. plan exactly how we’re going to sweet-talk the boss into giving us a promotion. Perhaps we just don’t want to earn the lasting derision of our colleagues, not to mention the enmity of bosses who are just trying to have a quiet drink.

But all in all, the consensus is that Christmas parties are good for the employer, and they’re also good for the employee (as long as they don’t do something hideously embarrassing). So resist the temptation to cancel this year’s bash, and party like it’s 2007 instead – it’s for your own good...

In today's bulletin:
HBOS bad debts soar to £8bn ahead of Lloyds vote
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Don't cancel the Christmas party
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