Colourful twinkling fairy lights across desks, piles of gingerbread and festive songs blasting through the speakers – for some people, this period at work brings out the best in people, for others it’s maddening and full of distraction. But done correctly, this festive time of year can be used to strengthen team spirit. We’ve put together some do's and don'ts, as well as a few points you may want to consider.
First point to note before we dive in, you’ll have varying levels of enthusiasm for the festive season which can be as far apart as the North and South poles. Even colleagues who are big fans will have different views on how to celebrate – should the emphasis be placed more on more traditional values and giving back, or should it be about fun and Santa?
Whichever way you choose to mark this holiday season, there is huge opportunity to bring your employees together and foster festive cheer! Like company anniversaries, the festive season creates a feeling of togetherness and if maximised can be incredibly powerful for your reputation as an employer.
Now for my top tips…
1. Christmas hits
Do it wrong: Surprise your colleagues by blasting "Last Christmas" by Wham! And making sure there is a continuous loop of festive music. It’ll bring everyone together and increase enthusiasm levels. Everyone will love it, right?
Do it right: In all honesty, there is only so much festive music we can cope with. And the louder you blast it, the more distracted your colleagues will feel. Maybe pick appropriate times to play the festive playlist – the evening of the Christmas party, for example?
Do it Cornerstone-style: In our London office, we play festive music in December, but only in the kitchen! The sound is kept at a reasonable level and my colleagues love it.
2. Mulled wine
Do it wrong: Go to any Christmas market and you’ll no doubt order a round a mulled wine for your team. Those willing to tolerate the cold may not stop at one mulled wine but have a few more to keep warm. Unfortunately, as we all know alcohol can play games with your memory so best take selfies to capture the vibe. And of course, sharing is caring, so let’s pop all those snaps on Facebook and Instagram, for clients and friends to get a look behind the scenes of the company. Your colleagues will likely forgive you if you’re not so productive the next few days!
Do it right: During the lunch break, head to the Christmas market, especially nice to do with your department or if you’re a smaller company. Along with mulled wine, maybe treat yourself to a chocolate waffle or roasted chestnuts. An evening expedition to the Christmas market should be kept as a personal, social event and it’s best to not get carried away with the mulled wine.
Do it Cornerstone-style: At Cornerstone we always gather together for lunch on a Friday. During the festive period, we invite colleagues to bring in Christmas food on Fridays, and we share all the delicious treats as a team!
3. Festive decorations
Do it wrong: If you have the choice between a Santa hat or a full costume, the obvious choice is to go all out. And to appeal to all the senses, light some festive candles and decorate the room with fairy lights – create your own Santa’s grotto! Of course, there’s also the Christmas tree to think about – it has to be real, it has to be big, it has to be fragrant and it has to be in a prime spot, ideally greeting everyone who walks in.
Do it right: A hint of festive creates a nice atmosphere making the office feel cosy and adding a sprinkling of cheer. But the desk is also not a living room and should therefore not be overloaded with accessories, you still must be able to see the screen. Fir trees and candles are a fire hazard so best not to take it that far! Opt for some home-baked biscuits – we Brits always love a biscuit.
Do it Cornerstone-Style: Why not create a festive desk contest? A selection of judges will pick the best desk and the winner receives a voucher. Not only does this help drive festive spirit, colleagues are motivated to join in the creativity and have some fun with it.
4. Secret Santa
Do it wrong: Impress your colleagues and managers by buying extravagant gifts for everyone. Make sure people understand how awesome these gifts are by keeping the price tag on – we’re in the age of transparency, aren’t we? No worries if people blush, they are just flattered.
Do it right: Obviously define the rules of Secret Santa before you get going – invite people to join (don’t assume that they want to) and set a reasonable budget. You want to avoid embarrassing faces with either some people going overboard and others forgetting completely.
Do it Cornerstone-style: We name a Secret Santa elf to organise everything and set a price cap of £5. Passing the presents around is always a highlight of our Christmas party.
5. The party!
Do it wrong: You’ve been good all year, time to let loose at the Christmas party. Hit the dance floor early and show off your moves, or with that Dutch courage from the wine with lunch, take your boss aside and walk through how the company could be better managed. The more excessive, the better, after all, you’ll be off for a few days and you’ll hit the New Year with a bang!
Do it right: The Christmas party is of course meant to be fun with everyone coming together to toast to the past year and look to the new year with enthusiasm. But there are limits, people going overboard impacts others and they’ll be feeling rather sheepish the next day. The Christmas party is a company event, not a hen party.
Do it Cornerstone-style: Christmas is a Christian celebration, but we have employees belonging to many other faiths and at no point do we want people to feel excluded. We celebrate together, not just at Christmas time, but at other points in the year as well.
A little attention here and there to get the balance of festivities right goes a long way into creating team spirit. And don’t forget about your clients too, a token of appreciation goes a long way there too!
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