It’s December and the time of year when, love them or loath them, many of us would normally be gearing up for the work ‘do’. But this year has not been normal by any stretch of the imagination and, according to a recent article in the Daily Mail, fewer than two in ten businesses will this year be holding a Christmas party.
Clearly, the need for us all to keep socially distanced precludes the traditional office party, even though many might argue that a joyous shindig is exactly what we all need after a difficult year in which many have felt isolated from colleagues and stressed by new ways of working.
On the other hand, bearing in mind the huge cost – both economic and personal – that the pandemic has brought, others might say that even if we could, it would be inappropriate to celebrate as we have in previous years.
In lieu of the traditional office party, there is no shortage of ideas for remote celebrations this year. The most popular are secret santas, takeaway meals for the team, giving employees an additional day’s leave and quizzes via Zoom. But experts urge employers to be cautious when suggesting such activities, to be sensitive to the circumstances being faced by their team members and to always make it clear that participation in events is voluntary. In some ways, it is harder to ‘hide’ in a Zoom-type event than it is to slip away unnoticed from an office Christmas party. Responsible employers will have in place Employee Assistance Programmes and / or other support mechanisms so that help can be sought, if required.
On average, companies spend nearly £50 per employee on end of year celebrations. The impact on the hospitality industry of the loss of this income, coupled with continuing lockdown restrictions, means that many will not survive; all will be struggling.
The effect of the pandemic on the charitable sector has also been catastrophic. However, a new initiative that encourages companies to donate any funds that they would normally spend on their Christmas party to a charity of their choice may provide some seasonal cheer. Indeed, Brunsdon Financial is going to be making a donation to a local charity this year from funds that had been earmarked for Christmas celebrations.
Whatever you decide, we hope that you and your colleagues have a happy and restful Christmas and that the New Year will return us all, eventually, to business as usual.
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