5 alternatives to the office Christmas party, even if everyone is remote

New ways to support, recognise and connect your employees this Christmas season

The end of year is approaching quickly, and this time it will be unlike any we’ve seen before. In the UK, the winter holiday season is traditionally symbolic of a time of togetherness, which is made difficult by the physical distance most of us have from our colleagues, families and friends.

While companies would usually celebrate this time of year with an office party, after-work activities, Christmas lunches and festive decorations around the office, the current work environment prevents most of this from happening. During this busy time, it can be easy for companies to get swept up in financial concerns and end-of-year sales targets, but it is more important than ever that companies pay extra attention to their employees’ needs and keep the festivities going this holiday season.

Employers have a window of opportunity now to show their appreciation and give their employees a little encouragement to help them get through this last stretch of the year, and a chance to boost morale and connections into the new year and beyond. Here are six ideas to support, recognise and connect your employees this Christmas season:

1. Focus on recognising daily achievements
2. Connect your employees with virtual festive activities
3. Support your employees by putting the spotlight on wellbeing
4. Empower your people with employee benefits to make shopping easier
5. Keep employees connected with activities and competitions


1. Focus on recognising daily achievements

While recognition is always important, it is especially key during these challenging times. Showing your employees that you appreciate their hard work on a regular basis is necessary for keeping morale high and preventing employee burnout as we continue to navigate remote work. 

When employees are recognised by both managers and other employees, this strengthens connections across multiple levels of the company and shows employees that they are truly valued.

When employees feel appreciated, they will continue to give you their best every day, and this creates a ripple effect across the organisation. Encourage your managers and your employees to participate in recognition. For those who are overwhelmed with other tasks, the ability to schedule recognitions well in advance makes it easy to stay on top of recognition even when you’re busy.

If you’re having trouble getting your company on board with recognition, try having a Day of Thanks, where you encourage everyone in the company to send an eCard to someone who has helped them in some way. Check out the example eCards below:


2. Connect your employees with virtual festive activities

We might not be able to have holiday office parties this year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still come together to celebrate – there are plenty of fun ways you can help connect your employees virtually and engage remote workers. While happy hours were great at the beginning of remote work, you can take things to the next level now by pairing your group calls with activities. Here are some fun, festive ideas for your next after-work video call:

1. Get creative and decorate gingerbread houses together – whether they turn out beautifully or fall apart, this is sure to bring some laughs.
2. Hold a virtual candle-making session – send your employees kits and they’ll enjoy this gift all season long.
3. Host a trivia game – make it festive with holiday movies trivia or celebrate the end of the year with things that happened in 2020 as your theme.
4. Make happy hour more interesting by making the drinks together – find a few recipes and have employees buy their ingredients or send the ingredients to them.
  • These are just a few ideas to make your calls more interesting, but there are many more options. Keep your employees engaged and interested in these calls by pairing them with activities, and you’ll help your employees better connect with each other and the company.

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3. Support your employees by putting the spotlight on wellbeing

The holidays can be a time of happiness and connectedness, but they can also be a stressful time for many people and it’s important that employees receive the support they need during this time. With all of these changes happening, both inside the workplace and in employees’ personal lives, we all need to be mindful of the effect these will have on many employees’ wellbeing, and the effect that in turn may have on their attitude towards work.

It’s important to let your employees know that their wellbeing is top of mind for you. One way you can support your employees’ wellbeing is by giving them a Wellbeing Centre, where they can find recipes to try during the holidays, workout videos to stay active even with lockdown measures in place and mindfulness videos to promote mental wellbeing.

You can also support your employees by encouraging an open dialogue on wellbeing in your company – encourage employees to take time for themselves, to spend time with their families and friends and to focus on their wellbeing this holiday season.

"You can even give your employees an extra day of PTO to focus on themselves and their loved ones around the holidays." 

When your employees are appreciated, they will be more motivated and focussed on the work they do, so give them the time and space to work on their wellbeing.


4. Empower your people with employee benefits to make shopping easier

Another great way to support your employees this holiday season is through employee discounts. Even without a global pandemic, the holidays can be a time of stress – employees may be struggling to make ends meet and feel under pressure to buy presents they can’t afford. Employee benefits are a great way to relieve this financial stress, as you help your employees save money at hundreds of retailers.

We found 58% of employees would give up their holiday bonus in favour of more frequent rewards throughout the year, and that more than half of employees prefer ongoing recognition and savings to a Christmas office party.
Saving money on gifts, everyday purchases and entertainment is valuable to your employees year-round, so help your employees relieve their financial stress during the holidays and beyond by giving them new ways to save.


5. Keep employees connected with activities and competitions

Here are some ideas to keep your employees connected and keep the fun going this festive season:

1. Have a holiday baking competition – employees can choose their own recipes or select from a list and send pictures of the finished products, and the winner receives a new apron, kitchen supplies or a basket of goodies.
2. Encourage employees to dig their ugly Christmas sweaters out of the closet and post them on a social feed to keep the festive fun going.
3. Don’t feel like dressing up yourself? Host a dress-up competition for employees’ pets, and the winner will receive new toys in the mail.
4. Help your employees get cosy this festive season by providing them with the book of their choice.
5.Give back to others by donating your party budget to a local charity to make others’ celebrations better.

These are challenging times, but we still have an opportunity to connect and celebrate with each other this holiday season despite the physical distance. And even though this year’s celebration looks a little different, we can find better ways to use our resources and connect our people.

Looking for more affordable ways to support, recognise and connect your employees? Sign up for a free trial of Reward Gateway for Small Business and we’ll show you how we can help your company get through the Christmas season and beyond.

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