With the current economic climate, I don't want to spend loads of cash or upset other divisions within the company, especially as some of them have failed to hit budget and so won't be holding New Year's parties. On the other hand, I want to reward my own employees for a good year. Should I go ahead with the party or not?
A: Remember bottle parties? Good staff parties depend much more on ideas and enthusiasm than on lavish injections of corporate cash. It sounds as if you've got a sociable bunch who'd respond to a challenge, so why don't you get an informal group together (pick the lively ones; forget about rank and status) and set them to devise a do-it-yourself party plan?
Forget about hotels and restaurants: splash out on a packet of balloons and hold the party somewhere in the office. I don't know how big your department is, but you could probably afford to chip in either a hundred quid or two or three cases of wine out of your own pockets. You might have a company/pub quiz game for starters - researchers should enjoy digging out tricky questions. And there's bound to be someone who'd just love to be DJ for the evening (watch out for show-offs).
If nobody sparks, you can quietly drop the idea and wait for the sun to come out next year. But my bet is they'll jump at it, do it wonderfully well, vote it best ever; and with no risk of upsetting the other divisions - who could all do just the same if they wanted to.
Jeremy Bullmore's responses to work dilemmas in MT are collected in his new book Another Bad Day at the Office? (Penguin, pounds 5.99)
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