December holiday celebrations often include an obligatory office party. Before you automatically throw a holiday party for your employees, though, consider the pros and cons.
Pros of a Holiday Office Party
- Reinforce the company culture – A fun party reminds employees that your organization prioritizes teamwork and is a fun place to work.
- Improve employee engagement – Help employees feel included and engaged with co-workers, two factors that contribute to higher job performance and company loyalty.
- Demonstrate the company’s health – A holiday party is one way to show employees that your company is stable, prosperous and committed to ongoing job security.
- Thank employees – Use a holiday party to thank employees for their hard work over the last year.
Cons of a Holiday Office Party
- Diversity could suffer – Most employees hang out with the colleagues they know during social events. That means your holiday office party probably won’t help employees mingle or build stronger relationships with colleagues they don’t know well.
- Employees could engage in unprofessional behavior – A holiday office party is considered a workplace event, but employees may act in an unprofessional manner. They could let down their guard and drink too much, make unwanted sexual comments or advances, and otherwise act in inappropriate ways.
- You could face liability challenges – Forcing employees to attend the holiday office party, excluding employees of a certain religion, gender or other protected status, or allowing employees to drink too much could result in a lawsuit. Even though you have commercial liability insurance, this or a similar legal challenge could affect your company into the future.
- Productive work time decreases – The holiday party may only last a few hours, but carefully consider if your company can afford the downtime.
How to Decide if you Should Host a Party
While you can use this list of pros and cons to help you decide if you should host a holiday office party, you can also consider several additional factors.
Do employees really want a party? Despite the benefits, your employees may prefer not to attend an obligatory holiday office party.
Should you serve alcohol? To reduce liability and promote a safer party, consider giving each employee a drink ticket and hire a bartender who can monitor alcohol consumption. Or nix the alcohol and serve an interesting non-alcoholic beverage instead.
What’s the best way to show appreciation to your employees? An afternoon off, sporting event tickets or cash bonus might be a more appreciated way of demonstrating your gratitude to employees.
A holiday office party has several advantages and disadvantages. Weigh the pros and cons as you decide whether or not to host one this year.