Guest post: Don't skip the company holiday party

This is a guest post by Maureen Page, VP of Discount Security Cameras, your source for quality security cameras and security camera systems. Maureen recently wrote for us about getting more out of promotional videos for your events. Today she covers a seasonal theme that comes up for many business operators: In a tough economic climate, can you rationalize throwing a holiday party?

In this economy it may be tempting to eliminate or scale-down the company holiday party. There is even some discussion that it’s inappropriate to celebrate in an economy when so many are just barely getting by. But don’t do it!

I’m speaking from direct and recent experience. A few weeks ago, my husband and I decided to treat all of our 13 employees and their significant others to an all-expenses-paid cruise to the Bahamas. The event included two additional days of paid time off while the office was closed. Our company always has some kind of party for our employees at the holidays, but this year we decided to go all out because we are celebrating our tenth year in business.

We had some concerns about doing this. We were concerned that our customers would be upset that were closing the office for two days although we gave them plenty of notice. We were concerned that our employees would think that we were making too much money (and that they should be paid more) even though we actually made less money this year than last. And of course we were concerned about spending the additional funds ourselves. As it turns out our concerns were unwarranted because we got more accolades for this event than any other we ever did.

Here are some of the benefits we have realized from our event:

  • Our employees got a chance to relax and unwind
  • Our employees work very hard all year long and many of them don’t take time for vacation. This was the perfect vacation because they didn’t have to worry about the money they were spending or the time they were taking off. Cruises are especially relaxing because there’s no cooking, cleaning, or chores of any kind.

  • Our employees had a unique opportunity to bond
  • Like all businesses, conflicts arise between employees. Sometimes departments have different goals (sales vs. tech support for example) and that creates tension. Other times an honest mistake by one employee can cause a nightmare for another. This is all normal and expected. So having an event like this once a year where employees can get to enjoy each other’s company and get to know each other better is a huge benefit to their working relationships.

  • The company’s image was increased in the eyes of our employees
  • Of course, this was the main reason that we did the event. We want our employees to feel good about their job and the company they work for. This improves loyalty and morale all around. What surprised us most was the reaction that others around us had. Everyone we met was so impressed that the company did this for their employees. Friends and other family members of the employees were envious of the gift they received. They said, “Wow, how can I get a job there?” Talk about improving job satisfaction!

  • The company’s image was increased in the eyes of our customers
  • We were particularly worried that our customers would have a negative response to our event, especially since we closed the office for two days. We were concerned they would think we were charging them too much if we could afford this (in actuality, it didn’t cost much more than last year’s party). But the response from our customers was very positive. They know first-hand how hard our staff works so they were very happy for them.

  • We had a wonderful time!
  • My husband and I also had time to relax and unwind and bond with our co-workers. Not only did we improve our company’s image with our employees, but they improved their image with us. We truly enjoyed spending time with them.

I don’t know that we can host such an elaborate holiday event every year. However, this year’s event made me realize what an opportunity we have at the holidays to build employee relationships and company morale. Even if we can’t afford a Bahamas cruise every year, we will do something unique to remind our employees that they work for a vibrant and exceptional company that cares about them.