If you’re a business leader, in charge of a work force, or working in an HR department, answer this question; why have a Christmas Party?
A simple enough question, but its amazing how many wrong answers there can be; how about ‘Well, you’ve got to have a Christmas Party, right?’ or ‘The staff will be rioting if we don’t have a Christmas Party’, or even ‘We’ll look really mean if we don’t have a Christmas Party’. All of these, while betraying some hints of strategic wisdom, are not what we’re looking for.
They’re not quite right because all of them are defensive, none of them are proactive. They position the Christmas Party as something that a business feels it has to do, not something a business wants to do, for good strategic reasons. This thought process is very quickly picked up by staff.
The fact of the matter is, that this is how Christmas Parties used to be viewed, but thankfully times are changing and there is a new wave of business leaders who are looking at this budget line as an investment, not a liability.
The Christmas Party isn’t just a blow out at the end of the year, it should be viewed as a critical part of the company’s internal comms, HR and growth planning. It’s a chance to incentivise and reward staff, it’s an opportunity for the business to talk to them in an informal way, it’s a way to say that the business cares about the people that work for it, and it’s a great way of bringing an entire work force together, often for the only time in the year!
If we look at the party like that, we suddenly change the approach to how it is organised…
Christmas Parties have smartened their acts up considerably, but there are still the horror stories of debauched evenings, mass misbehaviour from staff, and the morning after being more of a disciplinary issue than an enjoyable reflection. Smart businesses are now curating the Christmas Party experience to send a business message, be it ‘we respect our staff’, ‘thank you for an amazing year’, ‘it’s going to be tough in the year to come’, or even ‘we have a new business strategy and here is our new brand’.
With that in mind the agenda can vary from that of a company conference followed by dinner, an awards ceremony, or even an incentive programme followed by a party. It’s a chance for the business to talk to its employee’s, not just get them wasted.
Here is where the venue comes in. With Christmas Parties, its message first, then venue and date; what is the right backdrop for our party, to send the right message to staff. If you want to do it right, you need to go to professionals like Make Venues, who have purpose-built spaces built for effective events, but that also understand how to manage crowds for things like food and drink. These venues can also offer pre party conference and event space, outside space, and even bedrooms if the company wants to offer an overnight stay. All nice ways to show care and consideration to the audience.
Because they do it right though, they get pretty busy, and so comes the issue of when to have the Christmas Party? The big tip here is to book in as far in advance as possible. This works for a number of reasons. Firstly, it gives everyone a chance to get the date in their diary early and not miss out. Secondly, it means that the business can get a date that works for it, not the ones that are left over. They can choose towards the end of the week, not too close to Christmas, but not having to do it in late October or, worse, late January! A word of warning, the peak times for booking Christmas Parties are March and September, so if you haven’t booked yours yet, get going.
But finally, an early booking creates anticipation. It shows staff that the company wasn’t just thinking about them in November, but in August and September – and for larger parties, back in March. It allows the business to get the dates in the diary and start building up that warm feeling, motivating them for the last quarter of the year. Often companies will do an internal marketing campaign in the run up to really excite staff. It’s a nice thing to do and again underlines that the party is a business tool, not a business problem.
Make Venues get this, and that is why they are offering an incentive on bookings that are confirmed this month. They are as keen as anyone to get the parties in the diary and for the good feeling to start now. It allows the business and the venue to work together to come up with something really special, capitalising on the venue’s knowledge of great food and drinks, and the creation of amazing atmospheres.
Finally, it allows the business to get the space they want, when they want it, and to focus on the act of making employees feel motivated, thought about, cared for, and special.