What's the value of an office party?
So, it’s that time of year again - compulsory fun at the office party. For some people, it’s all about the outfit, free drink or a chance to let their hair down and throw a shape on the dance floor. While, for others, it’s an experience to be endured. But what does it do for the bottom line? Believe it or not, the office festive knees-up could be one of the best investments you make…
Whether you spend an hour on a Friday afternoon having a quiz where employees pit their wits against each other or it’s a full night's entertainment complete with dinner and karaoke, it's an escape from the routine and a chance for people to look up from the keyboards.
Give everyone the opportunity to get involved and suddenly some new forces come into play. The office party is the showcase piece for helping organisations create a collaborative culture; a place where everyone can learn each other’s name (not just their email address), understand each other’s roles and start to be invested in the direction of the business.
Research suggests over 90% of leaders (BIT.AI Nov 19) consider team alignment is crucial to innovation, productivity and profit. An organisation that can boast a culture where the workforce sings off the same song sheet and share its values can look to see a happier workforce. To get to a place where employees can share those values there are two essential ingredients; two-way relationships, and an environment for dialogue. Knowing the names of your fellow employees is a good place to start.
With the approach of 2022, we are looking at a very different workforce and a brand-new way of working. This plays out with some good points and some less good bits, but one particular concern is around the tale of burnout.
Remote working has contributed to feelings of disconnection from the company mission. Employees tell tales of lacking confidence, struggling with relationships with colleagues and losing their understanding of purpose. Other workers have been and gone, but the hybrid world of today makes it difficult to see who they are; the view via Zoom can be very tunnelled.
Here is where an office party can play its part. It’s a chance to invite everyone to come together, people can reconnect and, suddenly, it is a whole lot easier to put a name to the face.
Building a relationship and creating an environment where active listening is encouraged does not happen because the management says it must. For employees to feel valued and be confident, organisations need to create safety and trust. If this culture of learning and trust is to be created, it needs to flow up as well as down. Leaders can learn from their teams as much as employees can learn from them.
Research suggests that companies and organisations that communicate effectively are 4.5x more likely to retain the best employees (BIT.AI Nov 19). Does this mean the office party is actually part of the staff retention strategy… maybe! A party, well-designed, can certainly play its role - a night of fun can help make leaders more approachable. That in turn will improve the flow of communication and develop relationships.
When all is said and done, a successful organisation needs a happy, engaged workforce. Not only are they more likely to stay working for you, but they will also communicate better, work more collaboratively, and achieve more. They will be your ambassadors, saying great things about their place of work and, as we know, word of mouth is the best marketing tool to attract new staff.
Employees are the biggest asset for any company so perhaps it is worth considering pulling out all the stops for a really special office party. It’s the perfect way to let your employees know you really appreciate them and their contribution, but it will also pay great dividends going forward. When these employees come together and combine their knowledge and expertise, big things will happen.