At the end of the calendar year, workplace holiday celebrations are an experience that many employees look forward to as a highlight of the season. These celebrations are often a long-standing tradition allowing employees to celebrate with their colleagues—and sometimes family and guests.
However, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations are evaluating how to engage employees safely this holiday season. Employers find themselves tasked with deciding whether they should cancel, postpone or offer an amended celebration that prioritizes safety—with many choosing to offer a virtual holiday party.
Virtual holiday parties can help increase employee engagement—but also come with a set of challenges. In addition to concerns regarding the coronavirus, holiday events can carry a financial cost and create risks for organizations if employees participate in inappropriate behaviors. This article gives an overview of virtual holiday parties and offers ideas and considerations for employers planning a virtual celebration.
The State of Holiday Parties During the Coronavirus
According to firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. who conducts annual workplace holiday party surveys, most employers are either canceling their party altogether or hosting it virtually this holiday season. Their annual survey found that:
- Twenty-three percent of organizations plan to host a year-end celebration in 2020, down from 76% in 2019.
- Forty-four percent of organizations canceling holiday parties this year cite COVID-19 as the reason for canceling.
- Seventy-four percent of those planning to offer a holiday party are doing so virtually.
These findings show that, while holiday parties are generally popular, employers are adapting to address current realities. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to offering a year-end celebration during the COVID-19 pandemic, and employers have a variety of options to engage their employees safely.
Considerations for Offering a Virtual Holiday Party
Holiday parties can impact employees in a variety of ways. Specifically, these events can boost:
- Team chemistry and camaraderie
- Employee motivation
- Employee engagement
Additionally, holiday parties can give employees a break from the standard workday and even serve as an informal meeting to discuss next year’s goals and instill company values.