Employers considering alternatives to the annual office holiday party

Posted at 12:29 PM, Nov 23, 2020

Open bars, lavish dinners and in-person get-togethers will likely be out of the question for many companies this year when it comes to planning end-of-the-year celebrations. A number of holiday office parities in 2020 will be non-existent, but experts say employers can still do a lot to show employees they appreciate them this holiday season.

"What I’ve heard recently is obviously, are employers are having to come up with different types of gatherings, not even gatherings but ways to celebrate. And what makes me feel good is there’s still desire to do that, it’s just how to do it," said Lisa Frydenlund, an HR Knowledge Adviser with the Society for Human Resources Management.

She says some businesses will be holding virtual celebrations.

"I even saw just recently something about getting a musician or some sort of that to be prerecorded and then sent out to people. So, it's a little mini concert. I think employers are getting very creative," said Frydenlund.

Valerie Keels works at the company Gavi, which has offices in Switzerland and Washington, D.C. Keels is working with a team of five other people to put on a virtual end-of-the-year office event. Complete with a virtual cartoonist, personal videos and more for their 350 employees.

"I think it serves a purpose. It's a reminder to those people who are more solitary, and okay being that way, that yeah, we’re all in this together and we can still be collegial and still have fun together," said Keels.

The biggest focus for Keels and her team is making sure their employees come together to celebrate all of their hard work.

"It's so important that organizations either foster or maintain that connectedness because it's so important for the motivation and even well-being of staff to be connected to both the organization and the colleagues," said Keels.

For some companies in lieu of holiday party, extra vacation days will be offered, as a way to show employees their appreciation during this unprecedented year.

"Time away is definitely something that's an added benefit that people can provide. You don't have to have a celebration or try to mimic what we had before, but why not give the gift of time," said Frydenlund.

Frydenlund says while some companies will still be hosting holiday parties as usual, she says many will likely consider the pandemic and proceed with caution.

"When you start to think about what is the intention around celebrating around the holidays and I’ve always wanted to make sure you’re inclusive in doing so because everybody celebrates things differently. And just like this entire year, it's giving employers more time and awareness to think about well how do we do that," said Frydenlund.

Coming together or giving back to so many who've worked especially hard and gone through so much in today's new normal.