Staff Party Planning during a pandemic

For those involved in staff party planning they would normally be breathing a sigh of relief by the end of August for having completed, what can be seen by many, as the most challenging/unwanted task of the year: organising the Christmas party! It is never easy to provide a celebration that is accessible and acceptable by all. That has the balance of professional ground rules yet is fun. That ticks all the boxes yet remains affordable.

Unlike previous years, the radio has not been filled with adverts for Christmas party nights, or social media with menus and booking forms for December.  At a time when it seems impossible to plan a social event next week in case the guidance changes, planning an event three months in advance seems as unthinkable as a worldwide pandemic bringing economies and nations to their knees in 2020.

Yet we are seeing an increase in enquiries regarding the “Christmas do”, indicating that it is slowly creeping onto the agenda. Perhaps the turn of seasons, and back to school feeling of September, has made people want something to look forward to – a sense of normality and team comradery.  As a caring employer, who understands the hardships and challenges that people have been through this year, and are facing into 2021, the need to acknowledge the festive season is vital.

The current guidance and law present a number of challenges for anyone organising the staff party or any event for that matter. The Rule of 6 and guidance to work from home, where possible, are the current restrictions, however there are suggestions that there may be tighter restrictions by Christmas. Whilst we cannot guarantee what the situation will be during December, what we can say with some certainty is that a well-planned event to bring the team together and lift their spirits will be of huge benefit to all.

So, what are the options?

  • A face to face gathering may be possible depending on the size of your team. The current guidance would allow you to book a covid secure venue with multiple tables of 6, however you would need to be confident that there would be no mixing between tables and no mingling on the way to the toilets. There would be no hitting the dancefloor, numbers may restrict the ability to involve partners, and having a clear statement about transport to and from the venue would need to be considered.
  • A Teams/Zoom event could be a good alternative. And the possibilities here are endless: during work time, with a quiz, festive headwear, over food.
  • Arranging entertainment for a virtual meet up can work well. This could be a speaker on a subject of interest or an interactive session. By arranging a box of goodies to be sent to your employees in advance, you can have an interactive cocktail making, or cooking, or crafting session. Your employees joining in from their own home – perhaps with their partners and families – whilst a professional leads them through the process.  If budget this year is limited, think about how you can spice up a quiz night: host the quiz yourself, but send a box of props and gimmicks to your team that will need to be used during the quiz.
  • A simple gift sent to home can mean a lot and is a great way of supporting a local business. Whether flowers, chocolates, alcohol, cheese or a mini hamper. Many local companies could arrange that personal touch for your team to receive.
  • Secret Santa can still be enjoyed but via post. Perhaps with a live opening of gifts as part of a virtual team get together.

Here at MAD-HR, we see the importance of capitalising on those opportunities to bring the team together, celebrating and having fun.  In the current climate, this is even more important, and whilst it will be different to past years, it need not be any less fun, we will just need to adapt. True, even Scrooge couldn’t join the Cratchits for dinner this year, but they can at least Zoom each other to watch gift opening and share a mince pie. However you decide to celebrate Christmas with your team, the effort it take for staff party planning will be appreciated and this year, more than ever, it will be the thought that counts.

If you would like to discuss the HR impact of staff party planning for your work events, please give one of our friendly HR team a call on: Suffolk office: 01473 360160   Norfolk office: 01603 791256  Essex office: 01245 410201