A Party as a form of social gathering and interaction has been one of the ways people mingle or network with one another to share views and ideas in an informal state of mind and ultimately with the aim to have fun. Office Party is not an exception and most office parties are purpose oriented for instance, Project Acquisition Party, Project Milestone Party, Project Close Party, End of the Year Party and the list goes on and on.
End of the Year Party has for many years been coincident with Christmas Holiday ascribed or attributed to the Christians. Due to the diverse office Employees from various religious backgrounds and beliefs from around the World, people resident in Western Countries and some developing Countries have become sensitive to the word “Christmas Party”. I am of the opinion that the use of the following naming conventions is interchangeable and dependent on the locality and societal awareness:
• Holiday Office Party
• Seasonal Office Party
• Office Christmas Party
• Festive Season Party
• End of the Year Party
For example, in a society with a predominant Christian culture or belief, it will be appropriate to call it “Office Christmas Party” while in a Muslim predominant Country or multi-religious Country, the term “End of the Year Party” will be more appropriate.
In current times, people are trying to be politically correct in their communication which have led many to hyper-sensitivity to anything associated with religion hence, the use of Festive Season Party or Holiday Office Party have appealed to many people and consequently these terms are now witnessed as a norm in recent years. Whatever you call it, the name is not that important provided the meaning and the concept behind it is understood in context by everyone as far as geographical location is concerned.
What is your Firm’s Position?
Traditionally, many firms believe the necessity to provide social gathering for their Employees in the form of a “Party” to acknowledge Employee contribution to a successful business year.
Unfortunately, after the 2008 / 2009 economic meltdown that crawled through many firms, there has been a shift and a different perspective of some Employers. This point of view generated economic reasons and justification to either abandon or to find a way of reducing cost on such activities as End of the Year Party.
What is Your Position?
Party attendance is usually optional with Employees’ RSVP (Respondez s’il vous plait) placed in advance for planning purposes. It is important to attend such an event even for a couple of hours as a demonstration of togetherness with Colleagues and the Management.
If you found yourself in the midst of Office Christmas Party, it is a good idea for you to participate fully during the Party though this might not be a mandatory requirement but remember that all eyes are on one another most especially your Manager’s eyes are on the Team. Let’s say you are absent for no genuine reason associated with work or job responsibilities it is more than likely that your Manager will not be pleased with you through non-verbal expression. Also, failure to participate where necessary carries similar weight as someone that is absent. Therefore, you should regard such gathering as an extension of office obligation while it is not explicitly expressed as such.
Once you made up your mind to attend your Office Party, do not forget to research the appropriate dress code for the particular occasion and theme because some dressing style can be too sexy or out of context.
Also, remember social gathering etiquette such as minimising your interaction with technological gadgets and at the same time to make sure you hold your glass with left hand so that your right hand is free for handshake, do not forget to give compliments where appropriate and be cordial in your communication with a happy face.
Among the multitude of Party Faux Pas to avoid include but not limited to the following:
• Inability to manage your level of drinks.
• Failure to act according to the details of the invitation.
• Not knowing your boundaries regarding physical interaction.
• Discussing personal life involving family or spouse.
Alternatives to Holiday (Christmas, Seasonal) Office Party
The current trend has shown that some firms that usually organize Parties for Employees and their Guest have streamlined this provision and invitation to Employees only. In other cases, some firms have reduced their budget for parties. Take for instance, instead of booking an elegant restaurant the firm may consider a modest place or engage the services of a Caterer to provide food and drinks complemented with games and Employee fun as a form of in-house alternative. Having said this, few firms that value their employees, the one that Invest in People with a clear understanding of the principle of Return on Investment have not dissuade themselves from this practice despite downturn or upturn of the economy.
As science explains that energy can neither be created nor destroyed but can only be transformed from one state into another. In the same manner, End of the Year Party can be cancelled but the principle behind it cannot be cancelled but it will have to be manifested in a different way. Apart from the fun and the get together, Employer’s intention for the Party is to boost Employee morale. Therefore, alternative ways of achieving this aim include the following:
• Organization of shopping spree with a dollar amount allocated to different Employees based on Company Policy.
• Holiday Cruise at the expense of the firm.
• Gift basket is another form of Employee Recognition.
• In-house alternative such as Employee Potluck lunch.
• Holiday gift exchange.
• Outdoor activities such as skiing and skating trip.
Meeting your Expectations
The outcome of End of the Year Party or suitable alternative will definitely meet some people’s expectation while it may fall short for others leaving such people with disappointment however, it is vital to note that the Employer’s initiative to recognize Employees loyalty has a profound psychological effect than the physical benefit.
Also, because the act itself is not an obligation so there is no set rule or any specified guideline as to how individual Employee’s expectation will be met. If you have been fortunate to enjoy a Christmas or End of the Year Party, you should not sit-down and complain about the inadequacies because it is worth remembering that some firms are unwilling and/or unable to entertain their hard working Employees that deserve to feel a sense of belonging and that of appreciation.
Lastly, remember that expectation works both ways. As you have now received from your Employer no matter how little or dissatisfying you might be, it is automatically expected of you to give in return a satisfactory service to advance your firm. After your Party experience, it will be wise on your part to use email or other method to thank the Management for taking time to arrange such a wonderful and enjoyable Party.