Companies are beginning to wonder what to do for the holidays this year. With COVID, should they cancel any celebrations altogether? MP’s HR services team suggests companies still do something for their workers this holiday season. Especially now, employees may be feeling burnt out. They may have been working extra hours to try to keep their business afloat, perhaps they’re juggling a lack of childcare and their workload, or perhaps they’re simply tired of working remotely in roles that were meant to be done in a team environment. The holidays are an excellent opportunity for employers to show appreciation for their team’s hard work in 2020, build employee engagement, and make their workers feel supported. This article will cover some virtual office party ideas as well as some non-party options.
5 Virtual Office Party Ideas
- Fully hosted parties: Companies can hire a service to run a virtual holiday party for them over Zoom and even host it. (MP’s own Nick Mirabello, our Chief Inspiration Officer and wellness and motivational speaker has been hosting virtual parties and happy hours since the beginning of the pandemic.) It’s also possible to hire performers, such as live musicians and comedians. Employers can handle the technical support aspect of their party, or leave that up to their host. The cost for any of these services will be significantly less than in-person services because there will be no cost for venue, travel, cleaning up, decorations, etc. Note that a virtual holiday party should be shorter than it would normally have been in-person. Interacting over zoom can be tiring and people will feel done sooner.
- Send some adult beverages: Just as at in-person parties, employers can make sure their workers have alcohol in hand for a virtual Christmas party or holiday party. Employers can check to see if it’s legal to ship alcohol in their state. If it’s not legal, employers can give workers an allowance to buy drinks themselves for a zoom holiday party. For virtual holiday party ideas that focus on alcohol, employers can create an activity. They could share a recipe and guide everyone or have professional mixologist guide everyone in creating a cocktail together. They could also lead (or hire a professional) to lead the group in a wine tasting.
- Food-oriented activities: Sometimes zoom parties feel less awkward when everyone is doing an activity together. Employers can send their team the ingredients to make a recipe, then guide them through it together like a virtual cooking class. There are also companies that offer kits and even professional guides for activities like this. For holiday parties, employers can opt to send their workers the materials to do a cookie decorating party together virtually or a gingerbread house competition.
- Games: Virtual holiday parties lend themselves well to get-together games. There are plenty of games that have been created specifically for remote gatherings, or coworkers can play games they would have in-person, but over zoom. Trivia games often go over well for virtual gatherings, as do murder mystery games or virtual holiday bingo.
- Sharing cultures: To improve employee engagement and help foster a diverse and inclusive culture, a portion of the party can be dedicated to sharing how people celebrate their various holidays. People who feel comfortable can share the food, clothes, and customs they use to celebrate certain holidays. This kind of activity should be approached with caution, though. It must be led and moderated with sensitivity. Nobody should be forced or feel pressured to share. If done right, this activity could help promote a more inclusive culture. If done wrong, it could do the opposite. If possible, it should be led or facilitated with some help from an organization’s DEI committee.
5 Virtual Office Party Ideas, Minus the Party
For employers who want to do something for workers, but don’t feel like a zoom or virtual holiday party would make sense for their team, here are 5 options below. These ideas don’t require a gathering or only offer a short gathering.
- Secret Santa or card exchange: Workplaces can facilitate a secret Santo or card exchange for their teams. There are many websites that can manage this kind of activity. Workers can send each other cards or gifts. This can also be done in a very digital way. E-cards or e-Giftcards can be sent instead of things via snail mail. If an employer wants to have some kind of gathering, they can have people open their presents over zoom together.
- Send a care package or gift to employees: If virtual office party ideas don’t appeal, employers can simply use the money they would have for the office party and send their workers something nice instead. They can send anything from branded to swag, to a nice bottle of wine, to an amazon card, to some cool technology like a new webcam or ear pods. To make the gift last all year, get staff a subscription to a wine of the month club or Audible. This kind of gesture lets employees know they’re valued and lets everyone skip an awkward remote gathering if they are dreading it.
- Send staff dinner: Local restaurants and bakeries could use the support more than ever, so why not support them and workers? Employers can send a delivery of a nice dinner for the employee and their family or roommates. Or the employer could send a gift card to a local restaurant or bakery.
- Charity: Employers can take money they would have spent on an office holiday party and work with employees to do something nice for others. Workers can get an ‘allowance’ to donate to the recipient of their choosing. Or, they can decide together where to donate as a group. If it seems like workers would enjoy it, a gathering can be facilitated to decide where and how to donate, or to talk about where individual employees donated.
- Time off: Especially in a pandemic year when staff may have been working overtime, this could be a gift that is deeply impactful. Giving employees an extra personal day to use whenever they want will feel luxurious and show them that their hard work is appreciated. Employers could also let their staff be done early one day or give ‘Summer Fridays’ throughout the Winter. This gift will also be beneficial to the organization. Staff will return from their time off refreshed and ready work harder and be more productive.
Planning for the holidays is easy. How will you plan for 2021 and a new administration that is likely to regulate business and HR more heavily? Register for the webinar.
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