The Website and Blog of HR Author and Speaker Lori Kleiman

The company holiday party: To have, or not to have?

office party

Socializing at work…it really does matter to your employees. As the economy turned, we saw many organizations cut back on the events that get people together for the purpose of getting to know one another better and have some casual time together. The picnic, holiday party and monthly birthday gatherings have gone by the wayside. It wasn’t just the expense, it was the time and energy it took to plan and host them.

But now that the economy is rebounding, and employees have options when it comes to their employer of choice – it may be time to re-visit the opportunities we provided our employees to just hang out together. It really does matter to employees to like their co-workers – and that translates to your bottom line.

When asked why they stay in a job – 52% of Americans replied co-workers, and only 26% percent replied salary. And if your focus is on the Affordable Care Act – only 8% of employees stated benefits. These statistics come out of a recent poll on 87% of those in the poll say that happiness contributes a great deal to their desire to say with a particular company. We spend countless hours and resources ensuring that our compensation and benefits are managed properly, but how about the social connections among employees?

The highly respected Wharton business school recently conducted a study of over 8,000 workers email interaction, and found that those who survived corporate layoffs had an unusual occurrence of these four words in their email communication: Football, Baseball, Coffee and Lunch. This was reported in a recent Wall Street Journal article. This adds to the conclusion that socializing on the job is not only critical to satisfaction, but we tend to retain those workers with whom we socialize when the hard decision of downsizing has to be faced.

It is estimated that the annual “March Madness” basketball pool costs American business between 1.2 and 1.7 Billion dollars in lost productivity. The answer is not to just cancel the pool, but rather think about how you can turn that into a connection opportunity between your employees. Can you have departments compete against one another – or better yet, create teams of employees that work together but may not know one another. Can great connections be made by having a team consist of one person each from sales, finance, operations and engineering? You might find a new way to connect the areas of your business that often seem the most disconnected.

Employee happiness is not only a nice thing to provide –it translates to real dollars for your organization. According to the 2013 Gallup poll the cost of disengaged workers due to lost productivity is in the range of $500 million! Now that’s a real number to consider as you move to cancel your holiday party this year.

Photo by jon oropeza used under the following license.

  1. Hi Lori
    Thanks for the great information. It makes perfect sense!

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