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The Upside to Doing Away With Holiday Office Parties


The Upside to Doing Away With Holiday Office Parties

Without delving into the question of whether the crucially important fight against sexual harassment at work has the unfortunate side effect of precluding focus on other important issues, on the positive side it could also be providing opportunities for bonding of colleagues in a more constructive way. A New York Times article on the trend in holiday office parties gives some examples. HBO offered what employees, especially Millennials, consider a perk of an afternoon off with co-workers to volunteer at a charity instead of the usual extravagant holiday party. Not only Millennials are eager to connect in and with social causes, but also the volunteer activities can create opportunities for developing relationships with people of all generations they don’t know in their organizations and potential clients and referral sources who share a common purpose.

There are other collaborative-type activities catching on. Several companies in investment and financial services among others are booking rooms at an interactive game site where smaller groups of people are shut in a room together and have a limited time to solve a puzzle. This allows for a manageable chance to get away from the office and get to know each other and even learn something about their skills—more productive, and often less costly than a party with less social stress. Beyond the now prevalent generations in the workplace, it should be appealing to Gen Zers who tend to love problem-solving. Some of them even do it by developing apps to solve a problem they have at high school or younger ages.

The puzzle-solving activities can be valuable for several situations throughout the year, such as:

  • Integrating new members of a multi-generational team, or any diverse team
  • Evaluating skills and chemistry with a potential hire or new team member
  • Providing stress breaks from work assignments for groups, especially for people who are not drawn to meditating and just relaxing.

These activities, whether charitable volunteering or game playing, can range from almost cost free to requiring a budget, but cost substantially less than the typical holiday party. Additionally, they have the benefit of having a strategic purpose, encourage goal-setting and fulfilling, and provide tangible benefits for the participants and external stakeholders.

Related: 4 Ways to Avoid Generational Communication Disconnects

So there truly can be an upside to doing away with holiday office parties. What would you replace them with and offer as a perk or strategic initiative periodically throughout the year? Please share your ideas with us.

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