What Companies are Doing for Holiday Parties During Pandemic

Christmas party Pandemic

One of the hallmarks of the holiday season is the company Christmas party, but with the COVID-19 pandemic in hyperdrive, many companies are rethinking their plans.

A number of businesses have cancelled their parties altogether, but other managers feel that in light of this very difficult year for many people, a company Christmas party might be just what employees need to lift their spirits for a while.

On the other hand, with the Centers for Disease Control even recommending that people not get together for family celebrations like Thanksgiving and Christmas, an office party would completely go against those recommendations.

Also, you could face liability and potential legal action if you do hold an in-person party and members of your staff come down with COVID-19.

Instead of in-person events, many companies are planning Zoom teleconference “parties” and they are asking their workers to join in by getting dressed up and bringing their favorite beverages and snacks to the online do.

According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., 55% of human resources professionals surveyed said their company is not having a holiday celebration this year, which is the highest number since the consulting firm started surveying employers about their holiday plans.

Here’s what the survey found:

  • 45% of HR professionals said their company had cancelled holiday party plans due to the pandemic.
  • 3% said cost-cutting was the reason for cancelling their party.
  • 4% said they never host holiday parties.
  • 23% said they were unsure of holiday plans and were awaiting state and local guidance before deciding.

“It is no surprise that many companies are forgoing the holiday party this year,” said Andrew Challenger, senior vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “It’s difficult to celebrate and implement all the precautions needed to keep everyone safe. The last thing any employer wants is an outbreak due to their year-end party.”

Additionally, the survey found that 55% of respondents continue keeping most of their staff working from home and another 5.5% have all of their employees telecommuting.

When asked when employers plan to bring all workers back to the office, 44% were unsure or did not answer. Another 21% planned to bring all workers back in early 2021, and 8% will wait for a vaccine.

Precautions for an in-person event

The companies that said they would be holding in-person holiday events plan to take steps to reduce the chances of COVID-19 spreading among their workers by taking the following precautions:

  • Requiring social distancing while at the party.
  • Requiring all attendees to wear masks.
  • Providing hand sanitizers, alcohol wipes and face masks.
  • Taking temperatures of all workers when they arrive.
  • Limiting the number of employees at the party.
  • Holding the event in a large area where employees can socially distance from one another (venues should be well-ventilated with several doors and windows).
  • Keeping hand sanitizer in various locations around the office.
  • Hosting outdoor events.
  • Regularly checking the CDC’s website to be up to date on precautions and advice.
  • Keeping up on state and local guidelines to get more accurate information on current case levels in their area.

Other options

Some companies that plan to skip festivities this year have come up with other ways to celebrate and reward their employees during the holidays, including:

  • Organizing virtual gift exchanges or virtual Secret Santa exchanges.
  • Giving away cooking classes or gifts like Apple Airpods or other small electronics (the cost per person will often be less than if you held an actual party and paid for the facility, catering, decorations, entertainment and drinks).
  • Assembling care packages with baked goods or gift certificates and delivering them to employees’ doorsteps.

 

The Holidays Have Their Own Workplace Perils

office holiday party

All year long you have been reminding your employees to “work safely … don’t take short cuts … prevent accidents.”

To do this they have to keep their minds on their work, but this time of the year as the holidays near, their minds might be everywhere else but on work.

They may be thinking “what to buy for everyone for Christmas – I hate shopping!” and “how will I pay for Christmas?” Meanwhile, relatives coming to stay add yet more distracting thoughts.

For some employees, the holiday period is a wonderful time, and for others it is dreadful, but it is stressful for most anyone. Normal routines and schedules are disrupted, and there is a lot of rushing around the town to crowded and chaotic stores and malls.

Be aware that accidents may be more likely to happen at this time of the year at the workplace, on the road or at home. Employees tend to take extra physical risks ― such as when hanging lights and lugging trees around.

And when roads and freeways are jammed, auto accidents increase.

In-office safety

When planning decorations for the office, it is important to keep holiday safety in mind.

Decorating the office helps workers enjoy the spirit of the season together, but remember that proper safety precautions should be observed at all times:

  • Be mindful of potential fire hazards when selecting holiday decorations and where you place them.
  • Be careful of stapling holiday lights, do not add too many strings of lights and make sure illuminated items are turned off.
  • Verify that all fire extinguishers are in place and fully charged and accessible.
  • Do not block exits, hang decorations on fire extinguishers, fire alarms or fire hose boxes, or obstruct the view of exit signs.
  • Do not hang decorations from sprinkler heads or electrical panels.
  • Without proper planning, holiday decorations can create tripping hazards. Extension cords should not be run through traffic areas where they pose trip hazards and, if you have to use an extension cord, use the proper one.
  • Avoid placing trees, freestanding decorations and presents in traffic areas.

Holiday party

The holidays bring office parties and, if alcohol is being served, keep in mind the liability involved.

Provide plenty of alternatives to alcohol, such as soft drinks, coffee, tea, water and cocoa. Consider non-alcoholic beers and virgin drinks at the bar.

Also, so your staff is safe on the way home, stop serving alcohol a few hours before the party ends.

It’s essential to make transportation arrangements for employees who should not drive – whether the party is held at the office, restaurant, your home or any other location.

The takeaway

If you keep in mind that the holidays put extra pressure on everyone, it may help you to keep your workplace free of accidents.

By following a few simple safety tips, it will be easy to enjoy the holiday and the events at work without dealing with injuries or damage to property.

When planning for the holidays, incorporate safety precautions into the planning process.

Need Gift Ideas for Your Christmas Party?

Give a gift of safety that just might save a life. Here are some ideas of safety items we don’t think about until we need them and/or it’s too late:

  • A smoke detector and batteries.
  • A quality fire extinguisher.
  • A flashlight and batteries, or light sticks.
  • A first aid kit.
  • An automobile safety kit including jumper cables, flares, fix-a-flat and reflectors.
  • A carbon monoxide detector.
  • An emergency kit flashlight, energy bars, batteries and first aid kit ― packed in a small travel bag.
  • A radio that runs by cranking rather than batteries.