The holiday party season has officially started.
But will it ever be the same as pre-pandemic? Maybe not.
COVID-19 put pay to the holiday party tradition which fell by the wayside – especially at the height of the pandemic with a three year hiatus. We saw a rise in online events which were less compelling, but maybe better than nothing.
Last year there was a bit of a resurgence of in-person gatherings as the holiday party seemed set to make a comeback as a highight in our annual calendars. But this year according to People Management enthusiasm seems to have waned.
Changes to the holiday party
1. Lower key
It’s not just economic uncertainty, high energy prices, and layoffs in the pipeline, but concerns that COVID-19 in it’s many latest forms, despite not being of pandemic proportions, is still out there. The holiday party is also impacted by increased numbers working remotely.
A poll by People Management revealed that 53% of employees are not attending a work Christmas party this year.
In total, 47% of employers said they would not be throwing a party at all.
Reports are that companies are going green. Many are cutting back on extravagant lighting due to soaring energy prices and going green generally with their decorations and gifts. All that glitters is not gold…. because it isn’t recyclable either.
3. More Inclusive
We are becoming more thoughtful and inclusive of other cultures and making sure that these events are not alcohol focused. Reports indicate that activities and themed events are becoming more popular. For some Gen Zs this is even their introduction to corporate festivities. They more than any other generation are less likely to drink alcohol.
Research from employment law and HR consultancy WorkNest revealed that 20% of those celebrating said “they were concerned about employees drinking in the presence of non-drinking staff.”
4. Hybrid events
With increased numbers of people working remotely, companies are getting creative around hybrid events. From a career point of view if you can attend it does put you in the same room as senior people to increase your visibility.
5. More responsible employers
It might be a social event but it is still a company function and comes under their remit for health and safety. Organisations seem to be taking that role more seriously around employee protection – provision of taxis, limiting drinks, and reminding employees of company guidelines on inappropriate behaviour.
WorkNest also found that 67% of businesses still do not have a policy or any guidance in place relating to expected behaviour at work events.
Does this mean that the stories of raucous rave-ups from yester year will now become part of office folklore? Remember the days when a free bar led to the letting down of communal hair, when microaggressions hadn’t been invented and getting groped was a bit of harmelss fun?
Holiday party firing behaviours included inappropriate flirting and behaviour with anyone at all – co-workers, bosses, and clients, plus substance abuse. The holiday party frequently gave the letch from Marketing licence to get “handsy,” undeterred by even #MeToo messaging.
Rules for first timers
But for any newbies here are some golden rules for anyone who has not been to a more traditional holiday party. Avoid becoming the office legend:
- Network with senior people early.
- Don’t drink your dinner – eat and mix alcohol and alternate with water.
- Tables, shots, and dancing are NEVER a good combo.
- Avoid the mistletoe – Really. Like a communicable disease, especially post COVID which IS a communicable disease. You might have had a secret crush on a colleague all year, but guess what….that’s exactly how it should stay. VERY secret. That would be one piece of office “goss” that would go viral. Think #MeToo and sexual harassment case.
- Apply the 24-hour rule – Absolutely NO photos, tweets, Facebook posts, or Instagrams until the following day. Then ask that critical question. What value would it add? The answer is almost always ….none. Generally, a social media embargo is a good idea.
More serious note
Don’t forget that there are still annoying double standards regarding misbehaviour of women. Men are more likely to be forgiven for more minor alcohol-related indiscretions. There is also a very strong connection between alcohol consumption and sexual harassment or assault.
And instead of giving women a list of dire warnings about their own dress code and behaviour – let’s keep this simple. Men…. don’t grope, drug, assault, harrass or rape women this holiday season. #NoExcuses
Have fun … but take care!
If your company needs to strengthen its female talent pipeline – get in touch now!
Is your organisation holding inclusive events?
Take a look at this post: 10 factors to consider to set up inclusive events