Posted by Robert Half on 30 November 2015
The office Christmas party is coming up, but rather than sensing excitement and enthusiasm in the office, you can't help noticing a degree of apathy. Excuses are arriving early - it seems nobody is too fussed about attending and employee engagement is low. Perhaps finger nibbles, Bucks Fizz and a few festive tunes in the office are no longer enough to get them interested.
Given the choice between a traditional office party and none at all, many employees are opting for the latter. This creates a problem for your organisation, which risks missing out on a valuable opportunity to build staff morale and increase employee engagement. So the question is, what exactly can you do about it?
First things first, you need to forget about what you've done in years gone by. It's time to come up with something your employees will be genuinely enthused about and eager to attend. Many organisations dumped stale 'boogie on the office floor' long ago, and you need to do the same.
Put together a social budget and make a concerted effort to give employees an experience to savour. If you're struggling here are some office Christmas party ideas:
1. A night at the opera
Why not treat your workforce to nights at the opera, ballet or theatre? This gives them the chance to dress up, hit the town and experience a little high culture and it is a novel Christmas party idea that is sure to boost employee morale. This may be a novelty for some members of staff, particularly younger employees. If you buy tickets in bulk, there may be a group discount available.
In a similar vein, you could cash in on the popularity of 'Downton Abbey' by throwing a 1920s dinner party for the workforce - complete with multiple courses, different wines and waiting-on staff. If they've got a penchant for fancy dress, some employees may choose to come in period costume.
2. A day at the races
Rather than staging the office Christmas party on an evening, some employers are organising whole-day social events for their staff. All the better if it's a day off work - but this will depend on the needs of your clients and whether anyone is able to hold the fort.
Other Christmas party ideas could be a day at the races, a coach trip to different city - potentially one with a Christmas market - or a major tourist attraction. Employees can interact on the coach, and take part in relationship-building events and activities during the day. This might be a good opportunity for employees to spend time together well away from the workplace.
3. Go volunteering
An alternative option is to organise a volunteering day - one where employees are invited to give something back to the community. This is an opportunity to do some good and make a difference to others, which after all, is at the heart of the Christmas story. Some employees won't be interested, but others will actively embrace the concept.
Volunteering days are great Christmas party ideas, they give employees the chance to see their colleagues and management in a different light, helping out disadvantaged groups or working on local projects. There's always the option of staging a more conventional party later on, with entertainment and refreshments.
4. Take a river cruise
Some employers prefer to organise traditional Christmas gatherings, but who's to say the location can't be somewhere a little more 'out of the box'. It may be possible to hire a function room at an iconic site - like a castle, stately homes or public building. Alternatively, you could book some space at an entertainment complex, where there is plenty for employees to do. It might be possible to stage the party on a river cruise, which is guaranteed to create a great atmosphere.
5. A mystery experience
There are an increasing range of options for mystery experiences - where employees know there is a Christmas party idea, but don't know what it entails. Options could be team-building games designed for corporate groups, a festive treasure hunt leading to the party location, or an outdoor adventure experience like paintballing.
6. Ping pong & table football
If you want to actively encourage employee engagement, why not organise a World Cup-style competition in the office - one that involves all members of staff? There could be different rounds such as ping pong, table football, quizzes and charades, with teams allocated points for success in each. The winning team gets to claim a huge trophy, individual prizes and priority access to the buffet when the hot food arrives.
7. Wait until the new year
If you want your social budget to stretch a little further, there's always the option of organising a New Year's party rather than a Christmas one. For corporate parties, you'll have to pay a premium over the festive season - it's a case of supply and demand. But waiting until January will allow you to really push the boat out and organise a great day or evening for your staff members - one they will be grateful for.
It might be a little late for you to come up with new Christmas party ideas, but there's plenty of time to think about your options for next year. Invite employee feedback on the social events your organisation arranges - find out what they enjoy and how you can improve your offering. After all, the end goal is employee engagement and improved staff morale, so the more you can get your staff involved the better.
Note: This article has been updated