The holiday season presents the perfect opportunity for employers to unite their staff in celebration, but what’s the best way to do that?
When the economy came to a grinding halt a few years back, tight budgets necessitated companies to downsize or altogether cancel lavish holiday parties. These festive gatherings have made a comeback but apparently that turning tide might not be completely welcome.
Entrepreneur Inc. cited a survey by clothing retailer Lands' End Business Outfitters that more than 70 per cent of employees who participated indicated that they “would rather receive a gift than go to an office holiday party.” So much for the idea that materialism is on the outs!
But before making the decision to either have a holiday party or to dole out gifts, it’s important to determine what kind of culture you are trying to create. If it were about camaraderie, then perhaps a gathering would go a long way to unifying your team. But if you have tried to create awareness around tight budgets and driving revenue to ensure the company succeeds, then spending money on either parties or gifts might send mixed messages.
Should you decide to give gifts, this raises the rather daunting task to come up with meaningful presents. There are always the traditional ideas, such as tree ornaments, gift baskets or thoughtful items that have a work-related meaning but really, we all have so much stuff. Isn’t it just more stuff that no one really needs?
Gift cards might seem impersonal but with retailers providing increasingly creative ways for gift cards to be personalized and delivered, it’s a great way to allow recipients to choose something meaningful to them.
In fact, a National Retail Federation November 2013 survey claims that gift cards are the most requested holiday gift for the seventh year in a row, so the practicality and convenience of this idea seems welcome. And if it can support local retailers, all the better.
Perhaps none of this is a fit for your organization, so before taking on the brain-teasing game of whether to have a holiday party and what gifts to buy for whom, companies may want to consider gathering employees through charitable efforts to help those around them. The possibilities are endless: volunteer at the food bank, collect money for local organizations or perhaps challenge staff to ‘pay it forward’ with kind gestures.
And on a personal level, why not spend a few minutes during this holiday season reflecting on the causes that mean the most to you, and planning how you will make an impact in 2014? As Helen Keller said, “Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.”
What is your worthy purpose?
As Principal of Lighthouse Visionary Strategies (www.lighthousevisionary.com), Cathy Goddard offers business coaching and consulting, workshops and the Open Forum speaker series. She is the founder of Lighthouse’s Mentor Network, providing mentor groups to local professionals and was nominated as Top 5 for a Small Business BC Award in recognition of the impact this program has on the Whistler community. Cathy can be reached at email@example.com.