Each year the office Christmas party loses UK businesses approximately £65 million in revenue because of absentees, lack of productivity and even the worse case scenario, a court case. But the works Christmas party has been with us since the Victorian times and is now a permanent fixture on the workplace calendar. Of course, back in Victorian times things were rather different: the workplace ‘do’ was generally a reward from the landowner, robber baron, mill owner or industrialist for a year of hard toil under harsh conditions for little money.
Today, the Christmas party is viewed very differently. Employees expect a Christmas party and often have a lack of appreciation of the event being an act of thanks from the company. It is also not uncommon for the managing directors of companies to ‘duck out’ of Christmas parties through fear of having to socialise with employees on a different level. Similarly if the managing director attends the employees arrive in fear of having to sit next to them and not being able to relax. Therefore, integrating management with employees is hard and puts pressure on the party emotionally and may encourage the flow of drink.
Christmas parties also cost a lot, especially for the cash starved small business who is recovering from a year of late payments. Venues put up their prices and restaurants create overpriced set three course Christmas menus to take advantage of large bookings and the demand for office parties. It is not uncommon for the food served to be sub standard or arrive late because the restaurant’s kitchen cannot cope with the large orders.
There is also the question of a busy Christmas when people might be stressed, tired and keen to be transported away from work and the crowds to enjoy the festive season with the family. The Christmas party is the last hurdle in the year before reaching that moment of relief when everything shuts down. For some the party almost becomes a chore, an obligatory event that everyone is pressured to attend when they would much rather be at home wrapping up Christmas presents.
This may all sound rather ‘Bah Humbug’ and there must be millions of us who love the Christmas party, but its fact that majority of us dread it. It’s a vulnerable time of the year; workers have had enough and want closure to enjoy a few days off. There is a tendency to drink too much, say too much and let down all the barriers as it feels like everything is coming to a head at the end of the year. But of course its not, only a week separates the works Christmas party and the start of the year. But what if you hadn’t had the works Christmas party and it was still to happen in January?
New years resolutions, pay rises, appraisals and promotions all come into play in January. It’s a time when staff motivation needs to be driven as the year’s strategies are planned. The employment of new staff is also high which may affect desk arrangements and different relationships being formed in the office. Everyone’s attitudes also change as they see January as a new start and time to change habits. Most of us are on diets after over indulging and are fed up of feeling hung over.
Prices of venues are also more reasonable which gives companies more opportunity to introduce themes or even team building events rather than just a restaurant meal. There is a huge variety of themed evening now available which encourage interaction as well as providing a highly entertaining evening. Introducing a theme or activity can help break the intensity of forced socialising as the focus is steered towards the challenge of a game, entertainment or even a murder mystery evening.