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Is the (Holiday) Party Over? How to Keep Your Company Holiday Party Under Control

Is your business planning a company holiday party this year? If not, you’ve got plenty of company. According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., just 65% of companies plan to hold a holiday party this year — the lowest number since 2009.

That year, just 62% of businesses held holiday festivities — but the Great Recession was at its height and cutting costs was the primary reason for the “Bah, humbug” attitudes. What’s keeping employers from celebrating this year?

The #MeToo movement is a likely culprit, according to the Challenger report, which found almost 60% of companies are concerned about inappropriate behavior at the office party. It’s also possible that with more remote, virtual or home-based employees, companies find it increasingly impractical to get everyone together for the event.

But not holding a holiday party is a real shame. Three-fourths of employees eagerly look forward to the annual company party, according to an Evite poll of 2,000 office employees. And companies that are holding parties plan to spend the same as or more than last year, Challenger reports.

Ways to Keep Your Company Holiday Party Under Control

If you don’t want to be Scrooge this year, how can you hold a company holiday party that’s fun, festive and appropriate? Follow these tips.

Focus on what employees care about. Socializing with coworkers and eating good food are the top things employees look forward to at the holiday party, Evite found. Create an environment where there’s plenty of time to talk and interact, and provide plenty of food (which also helps keep employees who imbibe from getting drunk).

Clarify expectations. If you haven’t already discussed sexual and other forms of harassment with your staff, do so before the party. (Some 37% of employees in the Evite survey have witnessed co-workers kissing or otherwise getting romantic at their holiday party.) It’s also a good idea to send an email before the party reminding everyone of the standards you expect.

Control alcohol intake. According to Evite, 57% of company parties involve at least one employee drinking too much and/or getting sick from alcohol. There’s a growing trend toward moderation or not drinking at all, Drinks Business reports — so you may not even need to serve liquor. If you do decide to provide alcohol, find out what your liability issues are beforehand, and limit overindulgence by issuing drink tickets, serving alcohol only for a short time, and hiring professional bartenders who can tell when someone is at risk of being overserved. You can also cover Uber or cab fares for employees.

Make it a family affair. Inviting spouses and children to the holiday party is a great way to reduce inappropriate behavior and excessive drinking. Consider treating the party more like a company picnic, with a daytime venue, a more casual atmosphere, and family-friendly activities like face painting, storytelling or making holiday crafts to keep the kids entertained. (If you’re hiring entertainment, such as a comedian, clown, band or DJ, check beforehand to make sure their set is family-friendly, with no suggestive music or potentially offensive jokes.)

Focus on fun experiences. Traditional holiday office parties can get kind of boring — and employees are less likely to get into trouble when there are planned activities to participate in. Hold silly games and contests, like an Ugly Christmas/Hanukkah Sweater competition, and offer prizes.

Involve remote employees. If your remote employees aren’t close enough to come to the party, there are still ways to make them feel part of the celebration. Use video conferencing to share speeches and toasts at the party. Create some contests they can participate in from a distance; for example, they can post photos of their ugly Christmas sweaters. Share photos of the party online so remote employees can see the fun. Finally, since you aren’t spending money on remote employees’ food and drink at the event, it’s thoughtful to send them a “care package” full of goodies or a gift card they can use to have some holiday fun on their own.

The company holiday party may have changed, but it’s still a tradition worth keeping. By following the steps above, you can ensure a party that’s fun for everyone.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “How to Keep Your Business’s Holiday Party from Going Off the Rails” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Unfortunately, many professionals hurt and undermine their personal brands without even realizing it. There are some key on-line and offline habits that I am regularly raising with my personal branding clients to help create awareness, and to diminish the impact.

  1. Not using social media. Social media is a critical way to build your brand, keep you visible and top of mind, and demonstrate both your expertise and commitment to your company. Being savvy to social media is a way to stay on top of news and information, grow your network and represent your company’s brand. It’s a credibility booster.
  2. Keep social media in-check. So many of us want to build our brands through social media so that we can become online influencers, network and increase our visibility. This can result in overcommitting and putting unnecessary pressure on ourselves to live up to expectations that we set for ourselves.For example: Blogging is a wonderful way to create community. It is also a sizeable commitment to continue feeding. Sign up for only what you can handle and do really well. Don’t overcommit. And ensure that whatever you choose, that it is linked to your reason for action.
  3. Be too self-promotional. There is a fine dance between being confident and tooting your own horn. If you are a serial self-promoter either online or in conversation, you will lose your audience. Your stakeholders will tune you out live and in person, and you may see a drop in engagement in your social media efforts.
  4. Belief that personal branding is only about looking for a new job. This is not true. Being visible and engaging, and networking online and offline is important at any time. We need to steward our personal brands every day to learn, stay engaged and remain relevant.
  5. Ignore traditional communications methods. A good old-fashion conversation, coffee hour or telephone call are still proven methods for engaging others and building your personal brand. Even if your colleague says that her preferred method of communication is instant message, professionals at all levels in a company still welcome a strong, intellectual and meaningful conversation.

Staying on top of these choices will help you avoid intentionally or unintentionally undermining your personal brand.

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