Never have we more needed to celebrate and connect…
Wrapping the year (in big, glossy bow) the Christmas office party has traditionally served as both milestone and morale booster: a chance for colleagues to let their hair down together, celebrate their hard-earned success and (crucially) feel rewarded for it. But this year Covid has ‘cancelled the party’ just when people most need to fling their arms around each other:
The number of adults in the UK with depression has doubled during the pandemic.
Half of UK managers fear their staff are at an increased risk of burnout.
87% of workers feel pressured by the demands of remote work.
The stats on wellbeing are bleak. With winter only set to get bleaker, we could all benefit from the human closeness, joy and goodwill afforded by the festive season. It’s a chance to build connections and radiate positivity; to access the ‘feel-good’ factor that comes from helping others – and knowing others value you too.
So what’s the answer? Suggest throwing a virtual event for your people, and they’ll likely howl, ‘NOT MORE TIME AT THE SCREEN?’ Presenting your red-eyed, Zoom-sick colleagues with a virtual Christmas party is akin to offering the winner of a Mince Pie Eating Competition more mince pie!
But it doesn’t have to be that way! Granted, you may be done with online quizzes and (inescapable) escape rooms, but to shut down our screens is to close down any chance of a communal Christmas experience. It’s also to miss a trick…
Apply real thought and energy to what you ‘put out’ remotely, and you’ll create moments of connection that ripple throughout your organisation and beyond.
Wellness doesn’t come from a well-wrapped hamper (not more mince pies!) It comes from feeling good, doing good, and engaging fully.
Here at the Culture Experiment, we’ve distilled our experience of creating fun, social sessions for large groups to supply some sure-fire ways to foster Christmas spirit.
4 Experiments to Create Warmth and Wellbeing at Christmas:
1. Seize the Chance to Give Back
Nothing brings us together like doing something meaningful and tangible for others. Have a think about the ‘giving back’ activities your people can do together from home. Here at the Culture Experiment, we’re moved by the generous ways teams galvanise each other to do good: They’ve come together to build shelters for rough sleepers; packed care boxes for people in crisis, and put together gifts for children in Romania (everything from toys to toothpaste).
Create a company-wide moment of giving: Ask everyone to collect items they can spare from around their home, and box up a ‘care package’ – keeping their cameras on, so they can chat, and enjoy leaning in together. Courier the parcels to a charity supported by your company (residents at a shelter; patients at a care home). If it’s possible to catch the happy reactions from recipients, share the pics with everyone who’s helped.
Even simpler – send a set of blank Christmas cards (and stamps!) to everyone who works for you. Get together online for a cheery card-writing session – write personal messages of thanks to those who’ve helped you (or your community) through this tough year. Did your best friend talk you through long, lonely evenings? Did your neighbour tirelessly shop for those shielding?
It doesn’t take much to spread the joy and feel you’re part of something bigger.
2. Feedback is a Gift!
There’s nothing like receiving positive feedback to make someone feel good about themselves. Take time to give it; land it in data so it really sticks, and you’ll be surprised by how good it makes you feel too.
Make the ‘gift’ of feedback a collective experience: Get people together to pen emails to colleagues they want to thank. Urge them to use specific examples and personal detail: Don’t say, ‘You’re great’, tell them exactly what they did to make such a positive impact on you. A few carefully-chosen words can make a huge difference to someone’s self-confidence and wellbeing.
Remember – this is the time of year we’re allowed to dial up the sentiment, so don’t hold back: Raise the company rafters with a chorus of approval all-round!
3. Create Shared, Positive Experiences
It’s easy (if expensive) to send a hamper out to every employee – even easier to stick a gift voucher in the post. But all you get at the end of it is a host of people opening a present alone…
If you want to create a sense of anticipation and shared experience, why not put together a ‘party’ box that gets delivered to every door? Fill it with cheap, cheerful room dressings and a Christmas crafting kit. Then get everyone together for some simple homespun fun – decorating their ‘zoom windows’ together – or crafting Christmas decorations and gifts, swapping tips and giggling over glitter.
4. Facilitate Fun, Energizing chats
Who hasn’t spent previous office parties stuck making soul-sapping conversation with a colleague you’d normally duck?
A virtual session allows you to drop the small talk – and focus on snappy, high-energy exchanges. Facilitate and format these chats for maximum impact: Whether you’re pairing people in breezy break-out rooms for a 2 minute ‘confessional’ – or issuing challenges that encourage colleagues to use/ share their home environment – you can swiftly create a huge sense of shared fun.
What was the worst Christmas present you’ve been given in recent memory? Everyone on the call must go rummage through their home – for that badly-knitted bobble hat, or ‘Las Vegas Line-Dancing’ DVD.
Dig out and share pics of ‘Christmas Past’ (Granny snoring in a Santa hat; Auntie Pat snogging everyone under the mistletoe). Swap plans for Christmas to come – there’s more than one way to pull a cracker!
Here’s how we’re getting our jingle on… Take everyone on a festive tour of your home – do inflatable snowmen line your hall? Is your dog chewing the tinsel? Are your baubles hanging low? Bond together over your best/ worst decorative efforts!
Create a Christmas meal together: Invite your people to position their camera in their kitchen, and zoom together as you each create your favourite Christmas lunch – whether it’s nut-roast with vegan trimmings, or a towering BLT (where the ‘T’ is aaaaaall turkey!)
Every event we’ve run in the past few months has shown us how much people want to come together. Create the right atmosphere, foster an inclusive sense of fun, and use the potential of the virtual space to give your deserving people a Christmas Like No Other.