How to Host Virtual Parties That Strengthen Company Culture

Jan 5

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Why your end of year party matters and how to make it count for your team

Your team may be working remotely but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate together this holiday season. Although office holiday parties can seem like trivial annual events, virtual parties are becoming more important than ever this year as more teams adjust to working from home amid the pandemic.

A recent study from the Martec Group found that the shift to work-from-home has been tied to a decline in employee mental health, as well as decreases in overall motivation and job satisfaction. Positive company culture has been shown to increase productivity and impact employee retention, prompting an increasing number of leading companies to consider the role they can play in their employees’ health and wellness. 

Although culture is built year-round, your holiday party offers a prime opportunity to remind your team how much they are valued and to strengthen employee relationships. Here are some tips for planning a holiday party that builds your company culture and boosts team morale. 

Consider your goals for virtual parties

It’s easy to fall into the trap of simply going through the motions of planning your team’s holiday party, treating it as another task to check off your already lengthy to-do list. Instead, take some time to step back and consider the “why” behind your virtual holiday party. Clearly defined goals can help guide your planning efforts, as well as result in a more fulfilling, enjoyable party for your team. 

If your main goal is to foster employee relationships, for example, you might consider what kinds of party activities would best promote team-building and connection. Or, if you’re hoping to create a sense of normalcy and relieve the stress of a challenging year, you may prefer to focus on planning virtual versions of fun, familiar activities from your team parties of past years. 

Think about your team’s unique needs

Many newly remote employees have been adapting to working in shared spaces with roommates and significant others or juggling increased family responsibilities with work. It’s important to consider these kinds of factors when planning your virtual parties. 

For example, you might consider hosting the party during work hours to avoid taking away from your employees’ family time. Or, if you decide to host an evening party, you may want to plan activities that your team’s families can participate in, such as gingerbread cookie decorating. Your holiday party should be an activity that enhances your employees’ lives rather than a burden on their schedules, so keep their individual needs and priorities in mind when deciding when and how to host your virtual gathering.

Make it interactive

The last thing you want is for your virtual holiday party to feel like another Zoom meeting, so think about ways to keep your team engaged and involved throughout the event. You could have employees send song requests for a festive playlist to set the mood during the party. Encourage everyone to dress up or hold an ugly sweater contest with prizes for the best looks. 

There are as many different kinds of virtual event options as there are different styles of teams. Trivia games, karaoke, and escape rooms are just a few of the virtual ways to bring a focus or theme to your holiday party and encourage team participation. Depending on your team’s interests, this could also be an opportunity to skip the usual indulgent office holiday party traditions and instead participate in a wellness activity together, such as a group meditation or a yoga class. 

Include a special delivery

Sending something to your team in the mail before your virtual holiday party can help build excitement and add a sense of occasion to the event day. You could mail out props for a virtual team photo, company-branded or holiday-themed swag, or kits to be used during the party activities.

Deliveries are also an excellent way to incorporate food and drink into your holiday party. Food and drink are a staple of most in-person office parties, and your virtual gathering need not be an exception. Send your employees ingredients for a virtual cooking class or a kit for a group mixology or sommelier workshop. You could also have prepared meals delivered the day of the event that your team can enjoy together while engaging in other games and activities. 

It’s important, however, to think about your employees’ food and drink preferences during your planning. Make sure your food and drink choices don’t unintentionally exclude employees with certain allergies or dietary needs. 

Make time to recognize your team

Office holiday parties not only mark the festive season but also the end of the year, making them a fitting time to acknowledge your team’s accomplishments over the past 12 months. 

That might mean taking time during the party to highlight the achievements of various team members or departments, sending out handwritten notes of gratitude to every employee before the event, or gifting everyone a membership to a streaming service or wellness app. 

Whatever approach you choose, consider how your holiday party can be a meaningful occasion for your team that creates a sense of trust and rapport that carries into the new year.

Original publication can be found on HR.com

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