This Year, Thank Your Employees Without A Typical Office Party

  Now that we have finished off the last of the turkey leftovers, we are fully in the holiday season. This one is not going to look like others. Next year we’ll be back in form, though. But for now, like we have done all year, we’ll have to adjust.
            I saw a vodka ad recently. The ad was off-key because it showed folks at a festive party, dancing, talking closely and generally having a good time in a holiday party atmosphere – all sparkles and lights.
            We all know that it is an unlikely scenario this year. There will be few get-togethers. There won’t be sequins and appetizers and dancing. There will still be drinks served. There have been plenty of drinks served since March. But it won’t necessarily be festive.
            This will be the year without holiday parties. And while many folks dread the idea of a workplace holiday party, even introverts get excited to see friends and associates at a holiday gathering every year. It can be good for morale. It allows leaders to recognize the hard work of employees and allows everybody to reflect on a job well-done over the last year.
            This year, holiday attaboys are probably needed more than at any other time during most of our careers. We showed up. We innovated. We made needed changes. We found new ways of doing things. We adapted. And we’re still standing.
            So without the typical party, how will employers show gratitude, and how will employees take it in?
            The CDC has some advice. The Center’s best advice is to avoid gatherings at all. Alternatively, the CDC still defines outdoor dinner with family and friends from your community as a “moderate risk.” In these instances, social distancing and mask-wearing still must be a priority. Plenty of hand sanitizer should be on hand.
            If there will be food or beverages served, attendees should be encouraged to bring their own. If food will be served, a single person should be tasked with doing the serving to limit exposure.
            The CDC has cautioned that attending large indoor gatherings with people from outside your household is a “higher risk activity” which can be made worse by the use of alcohol. These types of events should be avoided.
            As an employer, it makes sense from both an economic perspective and a liability perspective to avoid these types of events – at least for this year. Losing a good chunk of your workforce due to a “super-spreader” holiday party could devastate your business just as we are about to emerge from the pandemic (hopefully in the spring).
            Instead, it might make sense to think about hiring a performer to put on a show for your employees via video-conferencing. Hiring a chef to teach a cooking class and sending appetizers and a bottle of wine to your employees while they watch the show could be a nice idea.
            Bringing in some stand-up comedians to perform for your employees would also be a great way to get everyone laughing together in a time when laughter has been hard to come by. These shared experiences will go a long way toward building camaraderie even in a time when it is hard to do. 2020 will always be remembered as a year unlike any other. But as we have already proven, we are highly resilient, and we can find new ways to celebrate.

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