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Festive Feelings Matter

The atmosphere in our office is building as we approach our Christmas party. It is quite amazing the effect it seems to have had on everyone which is why it is surprising for us to hear how so many companies have been scrapping their Christmas parties this year; we know that times are tough and 2012 looks set to be another challenging year but Christmas provides the perfect opportunity to reward, recognise and motivate your employees.

When times are tough, Christmas seems one of the most obvious places to cut back but it is probably a place which will make a big impact. January is a pivotal month in the recruitment calendar as people up and down the country try to keep their New Year’s resolutions—turning into Scrooge could just be the turning point for those 'on the fence' employees to send them into the job market. Equally it could encourage passive job candidates, when the Headhunter calls, to consider their offering much quicker than normal.

It Doesn't Have to Cost the Earth

That said, Christmas doesn’t have to cost the earth. Most people understand the current economic situation and that it isn’t only impacting their own purse strings but their companies too. I have no doubt that employees would rather keep their jobs than have a massive Christmas blow-out that costs their company so much they need to make redundancies.

Instead it is about being honest with employees to ensure they know they are still valued and appreciated.  It is the perfect time for some heartfelt and genuine recognition. Something as simple as a personalised, hand-written card from the MD or their senior manager thanking them for all their hard work, is a nice touch that doesn’t break the bank. Or giving all employees a personalised advent calendar is a nice touch that shows you've thought of them and gives them something to look forward to each morning in the bleakness of December.

Ask What THEY Want

Ask employees what they would prefer, contributing to the cost of the Christmas party or cancelling it all together. Again honesty is key here but a Christmas party can have real value. Not only does it boost morale and excitement in the run up to it but it gives employees an opportunity to socialise away from the office and to meet people from other departments that they don’t normally get to meet. It will probably be surprising how many people enjoy the Christmas party; Prestige Scotland have reported how they have seen a large increase in private Christmas parties where people are determined not to miss out on the opportunity to socialise even though their companies have cancelled the traditional office party.

For some employees, the Christmas party is a dreaded event; if this seems to be the consensus at your company then it is again worth asking employees what they would rather have, a Christmas party or a different reward/celebration. In these hard times, it is silly to waste money on an office party that nobody wants to attend.

Boosting Productivity

If even these options seem like too much of an investment, then at the very least let employees have a couple of extra hours off on the last day before Christmas. Productivity will be at its lowest anyway (remember what it was like on the last day of term at school?!) and will therefore probably not cost much in time-money but will make employees feel like you really care about them and their families and encourage them to understand that you do think about them and their wellbeing.

Recognise the Best

A final option would be to implement a recognition scheme for employees to recognise each other. If it was positioned that you are unable to reward everyone but would like to recognise those that have done an extraordinary job this year then this could not only be a morale booster but an opportunity to scope what is happening in the business. By making it run from the ‘bottom up’, with each employee nominating who they think deserves to win it will be much more beneficial than if it was manager nominated, for both you and the employees themselves. You could also run a department of the year. Both of these will encourage departments or individuals to go the extra mile in the following year so that they will benefit from the prestige of being ‘the best’.

How did you celebrate Christmas with your company this year?

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