‘Tis the season for holiday parties and gatherings of family and friends. Hopefully, that seasonal cheer spreads to our extended families of colleagues in the workplace. As the holidays approach, now is a great time to bulk up your company’s employee engagement activities. The season of giving is a perfect opportunity to show others that you care about them and appreciate them.
We know that a strategic corporate philanthropy program or employee volunteering initiative is effective because it combines team building, skill development, and leadership. Another added benefit is that people simply feel good for doing good. There’s no better time to foster an environment of helping others than during the holidays.
Give Up Gift Exchanges
Trade the tradition of an office Secret Santa gift exchange into a toy drive for needy children. Instead of spending $20 on an anonymous gift that your co-worker would undoubtedly end up gifting to someone else, use that money to buy a new toy for Toys for Tots or another worthwhile charity. The spirit of giving still remains, and everyone feels good about it instead of ending up with gifts that they don’t really want.
There’s nothing like giving back to raise employee morale. You can foster the competitive spirit in your office by dividing employees into teams. Challenge the teams to select a charity and see which team can raise the most money or items to give during the holiday season. You can even reward the teams for their effort by matching additional funds to the charities from the company.
Add a New Twist to the Office Holiday Party
It’s important to foster a fun environment around the holidays. The annual company party is a good opportunity to meet significant others and get a glimpse into your employees’ personal lives outside of the office. Friendships can develop at these events which will, in turn, produce an atmosphere where everyone truly enjoys going to work and being among their coworkers.
But having a holiday party doesn’t have to be the stereotypical event where someone ends up wearing the lampshade. Take the opportunity to support fun in your business culture by trying some of these creative ideas for holiday celebrations:
Let your employees show off their culinary skills by hosting a Potluck Lunch. Each person contributes a dish to be shared by the group. It’s simple to execute and a great exercise in sharing talents. Colleagues may choose to create dishes inspired by family traditions or their ethnic backgrounds. This creates a family atmosphere, and it’s a low-cost way to provide a large meal for the entire department or office. Create a friendly competition by designating categories for the food and have people vote on “Best Tasting Dish”, “Best Presentation“ and “Most Creative”. Make sure you have a signup sheet ahead of time to designate who will bring appetizers, salads, vegetarian options, desserts, etc. so that the meal is balanced.
Volunteer at a Local Soup Kitchen
Take your employee’s cooking skills a bit further by inviting them to participate in a company-sponsored volunteer event at a local soup kitchen to help those in need. The holidays can be an especially challenging time for the hungry, so every bit of help counts. Volunteer events are a great way to get employees out of the office for an afternoon and they give everyone a much needed break around the holidays while doing good for the community.
America’s Got Talent
Hosting a holiday talent competition is a fun way to let your employees shine and lighten up the workplace. Get a karaoke machine for crooners, have artists draw caricatures of co-workers, see who has coordination with juggling balls as well as work tasks, and set up a Dance Dance Revolution video game station to see who’s got the best moves.
All of these are great ways to build camaraderie in the office by engaging your employees with creative interaction around the holidays. Take stock of what you think your employees will enjoy and combine with a volunteer mission for the ultimate in doing good and having fun.
Interested in engaging employees further? Check out our guide to employee engagement – perfect for all year round!