HR How-To: Host A Holiday Party In 2020 - Abel HR

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HR How-To: Host A Holiday Party In 2020

After the year we’ve all had, it may not feel like time to celebrate. However, many companies still want to reward their employees for their pandemic perseverance by hosting a holiday party. Acknowledging that our usual blogs on this topic won’t really stand the test of time or rather, a nationwide shut down this year, we will review tips and tricks, as well as a few fun alternatives, that will let you safely celebrate the season. 

Consider an outdoor event: 
Many state, city, and even county rules on the scope of gatherings are based on the outbreak numbers in your area, and since this is a somewhat moving target, it is something that you and your venue will need to keep a very close eye on in order to remain compliant. Venues with outdoor options (think covered patios or courtyards) can be a great option as these spaces are large and aren’t bound to the same rules in terms of head counts. Embrace the environment by asking your venue to provide heaters or firepits if you live in colder climates and really run with the theme by setting up smores stations or thinking creatively about outdoor entertainment (fireworks? Outdoor slide show of the year in review?) so that guests do not feel like they’re just being shooed out into the cold.

Stick to the basics:
Since the pandemic hit, we’ve been told to mask up, wash our hands, and practice safe social distancing, so why change now? Make sure that your party is able to honor these three pandemic rules and be sure to get the word out early that masks will be required (or even provide your own promotional ones), set up hand sanitizing stations, and be careful about guest headcounts so that everyone can maintain safe distances. Some venues may also require a health screening or a temperature scan at arrival, so be sure to let partygoers know what the protocol is so that they aren’t caught off guard (or spending their first 10 minutes at the party filling out paperwork!)

Whittle your guest list:
If you’ve traditionally invited the partners or spouses, or even the whole family to your end of year celebration, 2020 might be the year to reconsider. Most venues will have strict requirements about how many guests can be in attendance and many families will struggle this year to find childcare that they can trust. Just inviting your actual employees and potentially carving out time during the workday for a fancy lunch as opposed to an after-hours celebration may make it easier to honor the season without imposing a burden on your workers.

Rethink the buffet:
In year’s past, offering a buffet may have been a great option to ensure everyone could find something that they want to eat. However, most venues are steering clear of this option and are instead looking more to plated meals or funky meal boards or boxes (like a fancy takeout!) With this model in mind, you will likely need to plan to have more service staff on hand. For example, adding a bartender or two instead of having a self-service beverage station and you will also need to allocate more time to the dining portion of your evening.

Consider an alternative:
After the year we’ve all had, going to a party, no matter how fun it will be, is not necessarily high on everyone’s to-do list. As we touched on above, there’s the risk, the logistics, and all the rules to follow. Instead, your company might want to consider hosting an activity instead. We love the idea of dividing your company into teams and having them duke it out in a pub-style quiz for the afternoon or getting out into the great outdoors and doing a high ropes course or other outdoor-based activity that everyone will enjoy. Another alternative is to consider selecting a non-profit and working together as a company to provide either time, services, or gifts to help their cause in the run up to the holidays. Not only is it a great team-building activity, but it is also a tangible way to give back when so many have struggled this year.

A time for recognition:
Perhaps more so than a traditional holiday party, this year folks who have been toiling away under very different circumstances, either at home or at the hands of a significant restructuring of their jobs, would love to feel appreciated and recognized for their contributions. Instead of a one-day soiree, consider setting up a recognition week with themes all centering around making your employees feel appreciated. You could use each day to identify and communicate the contributions of various teams or team members or to highlight progress your company has collectively made towards a goal. In addition, you can award prizes, offer meals or treats (you’d be amazed how happy employees are for an afternoon surprise Starbucks run!), and host a raffle with some big-buck prizes (spa certificates, car detailing vouchers, restaurant gift cards) or put together small gift bags for all with company swag and small tokens of gratitude (think a $5 coffee gift card, a stress ball, some candy, a hand cream or other pampering item, etc).

What will you be doing to help your workers celebrate this holiday season? Let us know in the comments!

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