Today is our annual Christmas get together, where we’ll all don our Christmas jumpers, have a turkey dinner and no doubt enjoy a few glasses of wine. But it got me thinking, apart from some free food and drink for employees. What are the benefits of a Christmas shindig?

According to research by event promotions website Eventbrite, firms splash out almost £1bn on parties in the UK, spending on average £42.48 per employee. But that varied wildly across the country – from just £12.36 per head in Northern Ireland to £56.49 a head in Greater London, with some events costing considerably more.

Is all this money a waste of time or a worthy investment in employee satisfaction?

Christmas parties have got a bit of a bad reputation of late. Whether it’s an office romance, embarrassing admissions or finally telling Joe from accounts what you think of him (whether positive or negative). Alcohol has a way of relaxing inhibitions that can lead to all kinds of issues when back in the office on Monday. But for us, any negatives far outweigh any potential negatives.

What are the benefits of a Christmas party…

A Christmas party, or in fact a celebration at any time of the year, is a great way to reward your employees. There is nothing more demotivating than working hard, for no reward. Obviously, a pay packet at the end of each month is a reward in itself. But a party, however big or small, can help to aid employee motivation. It offers the chance to say thank you for all the hard work and commitment your staff have given over the past year. If you’re able to combine with some form of awards ceremony to highlight those that have gone above and beyond it will further boost the good will in the office. Mixing business and pleasure in this manner and recognizing various aspects of employees work can underpin the rewarding properties of throwing a seasonal bash.
Keele University undertook research on the motivational value of events for businesses. Sam Booth, who heads up the University’s events arms says. “It’s the one time of year that you get the chance to truly reward employees for their input and engage them with business objectives for the year ahead […] No matter how big or small your Christmas budget, businesses should not underestimate the long-term value of engaging with employees by getting into the festive spirit.”

Creating a Rapport
The Christmas do is a time for your staff to socialise with not just their immediate team, but the wider organisation, including their superiors. This interaction is essential in building rapport that is friendly as well as professional. Of course, everyone isn’t going to become best friends overnight, and indeed some might not get on at all. But a team with a mixture of personal and professional relationships will work better together and benefit productivity in the long term.

For us the building of rapport is perhaps the most important benefit. All our staff work remotely, meaning the ability to build relationships that go beyond the professional is hard. There is no chatting while making a cup of tea, no lunch time chats to your colleagues or the quick drink after work on a Friday. Since going fully virtual this year we’ve realised the importance of these kind of interactions. So for us a Christmas party is a necessity, in fact we do it more often. We have a company day every few months, while not all are of a party nature, they offer us a chance to get together and build those all important bonds.

Christmas parties also offer the chance to reward and engage with employees, in the process boosting morale. Relaxed inhibitions and the shedding of work stresses, if channelled correctly, can be hugely positive; allowing employees to build a rapport with one another which can yield long-term results further down the line in a working environment.

‘Are Christmas parties worth the expense?…’ was written by Frances Foster, Continuous Improvement Manager at Chiumento Consulting. If you like what you’ve read why not follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter and read all our future careers advice and musings on the world of work.