It is easy to understand why some may question the worth of a company party in today’s world; cutbacks, tight schedules, even “been there, done that” syndrome, might make a party seem like an idea of the past, but nothing could be further from the truth. The ROI (Return on Investment) might be viewed as a tremendous bargain in what comes back to the company, given all the factors that are involved. Retaining your valued and accomplished employees has become more important than ever in a fluid economy where loyalty is at stake and employees agree they will go where they are most respected. An appreciation event goes a long way toward accomplishing this at a fraction of the cost of other methods.
You will certainly want to take the culture of your company into account when planning an event. Beyond a fun facility, delicious catering, and engaging entertainment, what kinds of things will you be thinking of when putting your event together for maximum effect? Is it a family affair where you’ll want an afternoon event for the whole family - wives, husbands, significant others, and children to attend? Or perhaps the culture is high end and lends itself to a distinct gala evening with just significant others in more formal attire. Additionally, don’t consider making it for employees only! Very few employees will want to attend or will feel appreciated if they cannot enjoy it with someone important or close to them. To do so would perhaps seem like just another work obligation. For those employees that don’t want to bring a significant other, don’t worry - they’ll work that out themselves. Think of the event as a way for the associate to share their success at the company with those closest to them. Our jobs influence many facets of our lives, and helping employees see the connection as an inclusive, beneficial one will have clearly noticeable reward.
In order to make your party memorable, plan on doing things with a “WOW” factor. Things that will surprise and delight. You’ll want everyone to go home talking about the event in a way beyond simply another ho hum wedding reception-style event. Leave them with some memories and the party will continue to pay off, long after it’s over. To involve your team members, consider an interactive comedy stage or dinner show that lets people get as involved as much as they want, or allows them to just relax and enjoy the show with their co-workers. Caricatures and photo booths, or similar types of participation options, always lend a bit of lasting cheer as well! Dancing can follow of course, and gives everyone a chance to have fun together, but each component from the food to what happens on stage is an opportunity to let them know they are special.
Some may see the astounding events put on by large corporations like Microsoft and Google, and think that feats like those are simply out of their realm. But you don’t need the economy of scale on that level (both financial and numbers of people) to plan an event that will surprise and thrill your guests. Stay within a reasonable budget that will work for your organization, and use creativity where costs may need to stay within bounds. It doesn’t need to be expensive, but it should never feel cheap.
“The way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers.” — Richard Branson
A good holiday party, from an employees’ perspective, does one thing: it makes them feel appreciated. Imagine what you can do for $200-250 per person. If that sounds expensive, consider how well it would go over if you give out $200.00 bonuses at the end of the year. A company party, done right can feel it is worth 10 times the price paid in good feelings and appreciation from the associates and employees. There is often a perception that those employees at the higher levels in the company enjoy benefits that lower level employees do not, which is not a good element to foster a healthy and functional workplace. The annual holiday party is one way to show appreciation equally across the board, building loyalty toward your company and relatability across the full spectrum of your work sector.
An amazing company party is all about the feelings that it leaves the employees with, and represents the esteem you feel for each employee to the company. It creates a kind of goodwill that is impossible to buy with a comparable cash payout. Your people help make you a success, and the celebration is a way to clearly show them they are vital to the company’s continued success and growth. Now more than ever, a great party or special event can be well worth the return on investment.
The bottom line is this; the party is not so much about the party itself as it is about being a true, sincere way to represent to your team that they are an important part of the company. By providing a well planned, creative and thoughtful event for your staff, you will have a much higher retention rate and clearly a more productive workplace where the employees feel they are a both valuable and valued as part of the organization.
“At the end of the day people won't remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” - Maya Angelou
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