Celebrating the Holidays at Work: Creating a Productive, Cohesive Holiday Workplace
Holidays create an interesting dynamic in the workplace. Employees will be working while dealing with a variety of holiday-induced emotions that fall all over the spectrum:

-Stress
-Excitement
-Loneliness
-Happiness

These emotions can lead to distraction or productivity – so how can you manage your workplace and foster a motivated, cohesive atmosphere during the holidays?
You are already on the right track by reading this article. Part of effective management is awareness.

Important goals for a successful holiday season in the workplace include:

1. Build connections; foster cohesiveness
2. Show respect to all employees
3. Lead by example

Focus on these 3 objectives and you will be well on your way to creating a workplace with higher morale and cohesiveness, which will translate into higher productivity and workplace satisfaction.

Build Connections; Foster Cohesiveness

Search on Google Scholar and you will see that study after study documents the beneficial results of building social connections in the workplace. The holidays present a great opportunity to organize connection-building events and activities.

Holiday events encourage your employees to come together in a relaxed setting, free from work/task-related pressure.

Here is a smattering of event ideas that will bring employees together:

• Cooking Event:
Many cities have businesses that provide “culinary team building events.” The benefits are numerous. Employee bonding is a given, cooking together in a fun-filled atmosphere. Low stress is the second big plus: by having the event put on by an off-site, independent entity, it takes the stress and organization out of it for your employees. Make sure you have food options that reflect any food sensitivities or allergies your employees have.

• Volunteering Event:
Volunteering together increases teamwork and engagement, as well as helping each employee feel the happiness and satisfaction that comes with helping others. Volunteer events can be on or off-site, and can vary in time duration as well. In addition to volunteering events, companies can sponsor charitable drives at work, such as toy donation collection or adopt-a-family programs.

• Family-Friendly company celebration:
Including your employees’ families in a holiday celebration can be an important gesture of goodwill and also a great team builder. It allows employees to get to know their coworkers in a different light, which facilities bonding and cohesiveness. Be sensitive to employees who are single and include significant others or “bring a friend” as an option.

• Ongoing Fun:
Create a positive, fun holiday workplace environment using some of the following creative ideas.
○   Office trivia contests (doesn’t need to be holiday themed, can focus on company trivia, random trivia, music trivia, etc.)
○   Holiday decorating contests
○   Holiday treat stations (company provides holiday snacks and drinks for employees) Don’t forget to offer treats for those employees with dietary restrictions, such as dairy and gluten-free options.
○   Doing any of the above in groups can be a great holiday team building activity.

Show Respect to All Employees

It’s important to remember and respect different religious views when celebrating the holidays at work. Ignoring this can result in employees feeling isolated or offended; while being intentional about this fact can result in increased employee cohesion.

Including workers of all faiths on holiday planning committees is a good start. Make sure holiday décor is non-religious, use neutral items like snowflakes and garlands to create holiday cheer. Your focus on holiday celebrations can be to appreciate the hard work all employees have put in that year. Finally, be sure that all correspondence to employees uses neutral holiday greetings such as “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings.”

Lead by Example

This is important! If leaders are “too busy” to participate in holiday activities and events, employees will feel they need to skip events to get their work done too. Your participation shows your employees that you value them enough to spend time with them, and appreciate them and all of their hard work.

When at holiday events, it’s important for leaders to circulate and not hang out in their leadership social circle. When leaders connect with employees on a one-on-one basis, employees feel valued and appreciated, creating a more productive workplace.

Finally, think of clever ways to show appreciation. Employee awards, highlighting the year’s department accomplishments and efforts, and employee gifts all help convey your appreciation and gratitude to your teams.

Celebrations for Virtual Employees

If some or all of your employees are virtual, you need to get creative. Boosting morale and employee cohesiveness is just as important for a virtual company; you want your team to feel appreciated and energized for the new year.

Use some of these creative ideas to create a virtual holiday celebration that your employees look forward to every year:
•   Acknowledge their contributions over the past year
Write a personal message on a holiday card to each remote employee noting their value to the company and the traits you appreciate. Including a gift card or other gifts as a token of your appreciation is a nice touch.
•   Send a holiday package
Send your virtual employees a “holiday party in a box.” Fill the box with holiday decorations they can put up to make their home office festive – twinkle lights, snowflakes, window clings, candy canes, holiday treats – have some fun! Have a video conference for each employee to show their “holiday office.”
•   Give a gift card to a coffee shop or restaurant
Make the amount enough for two, or for their family.
•   Schedule a video “holiday party”
Although this may sound awkward at first, it really does work! Virtual holidays require a bit more structure than an in-office party, so you need to think up some activities and/or themes for conversation. Here are some ideas to get you started:
○   Have each individual walk around their home; have them introduce family members and pets, show the view out their window, holiday decorations, etc.
○   Have each person share a favorite holiday tradition or recipe.
○   Have an ugly holiday sweater/tie/hat contest.
○   Encourage team bonding by having team members take turns answering random questions you prepare in advance.
○   Ask employees to submit answers to questions beforehand, then spend the party guessing whose hobby is who, which random fact belongs to which person, etc.

Enjoy Celebrating the Holidays at Work

You all know that creating a positive, connected work culture is integral to business success. Mindful planning of workplace holiday celebrations can improve employee morale and workplace cohesiveness.

By incorporating holiday team building activities, inclusive holiday activities, and employee recognition into your holiday celebrations, you are leading your company on a path to growth and success.

Build a stronger company with these office holiday ideas and take celebrating the holidays at work to the next level.

Need Help?
Robin Kramer is an Online Business Manager that has been working with small businesses for 23 years. Her varied experience enables her to step in and help get your business functions streamlined, setting you up to achieve the business growth and profitability you’ve dreamed of.
To learn more about Robin’s skills and how she could help your business, contact her for a free consultation today.

Next Month’s Article Preview: Are you ready to plan for the new year? I’ll show you How to Set Achievable Business Goals.