It was once the case that staff would eagerly anticipate their Christmas party, counting down the seconds until they could throw some tinsel in their hair, wrap their tie around their head and tell their boss what they really think.
However, as it turns out, those days may be coming to an end. A recent survey conducted by DBI Furniture Solutions revealed that 2 in 3 people aren’t excited for this year’s festive shindig.
When asked “Are you looking forward to your Christmas party this year?”, only 32% of respondents said that they were looking forward to it, with 45% saying they were unsure about it and 23% admitting that they were actually dreading it.
Men were less likely to get excited by the prospect of the Christmas party than women. Only 27% of men who were asked said they were looking forward to their annual party, compared with 37% of women.
The Christmas party also proved far less popular with older groups than it did with younger people. 43% of 18-24s said that they were excited about partying with their workmates, while only 19% of respondents aged over 65 said they were looking forward to the celebrations
Why the ‘bah humbug’?
This new research poses a challenge to UK businesses, who collectively spend a staggering £1bn a year on Christmas parties every year.
Though everyone will have their own reasons why they may dreading the office Christmas party, typical complaints include poor venue choices, having to spend time with co-workers they feel they can’t relax around, and — of course — the risk of getting drunk in front of the boss.
Nick Pollitt, Managing Director of DBI, said that the negative feelings many employees have about office parties present an opportunity for businesses to think outside the box and turn their employees’ opinions around.
“A lot of the time, businesses make some costly mistakes when it comes to organising the annual Christmas party. There’s a delicate balance to be struck: while you risk boring your staff by going for the same venue with the same decor every single time, you also need to be considerate of their tastes.
“The best office parties are the product of healthy collaboration between an employer and their employees. Whatever the theme, venue or entertainment, it’ll always be a success if it’s centred around giving your staff a genuine, personalised ‘thank you’ for the year of hard work they’ve put in for the business.”
5 ways you can make your Christmas party a success
1. Ask how last year’s party went
The first thing you need to do when planning for a Christmas party is to find out what your employees liked and — more importantly — didn’t like about last year’s party. Was the venue too far away? Was the food bad? Did they wish the magician could have made himself disappear?
Put together a quick survey to gather some learnings and apply them when you plan this year’s party.
2. Get the venue right
The venue you decide on for your Christmas party says a lot to your staff. Going to the same venue every year leaves staff feeling like they haven’t really been thought about; instead, the company goes for the ‘safe’ option to save time and money.
Keep venues fresh while minimising the risk of getting it wrong by asking your employees for some venue ideas. However, you need to make sure you take into account the size of your team when considering suggestions. Booking out a small restaurant isn’t a good idea for a team of 100 while hiring out a yacht for your six-person marketing team is just wasteful.
Get a Christmas committee together that’s made up of people from different departments. It’ll help make planning easier and satisfy the party requests of your team
3. Break the ice
The size of your company will often dictate how long it takes for your staff to properly unwind once they arrive at the party. A great way to break the ice is with some interactive entertainment: games you can quickly play with someone else, like Jenga or table tennis, or hold a quiz with mixed teams get people talking quickly. It’ll certainly take the pressure off those introductory conversations!.
4. Feed them well
Open bars are great, but free drinks and empty stomachs are a recipe for disaster. Make sure that there is good food available to your staff at different points throughout the night: don’t just wait for the meal. Start the evening with canapes and bring out sandwiches for the people still partying come midnight.
Oh, and make sure there are plenty of soft drinks for non-drinkers and designated drivers, too. They should feel as included as anyone else.
5. Make it easy for them
If your venue is a little further afield, think about arranging some transport or even booking out a few hotel rooms so your staff don’t have to worry about how they’ll get home. Not only does this show your employees that you genuinely care about having them present, but it’s also likely to stop people from checking their watches and instead have a genuinely good time.
Bringing the party to the office
Perhaps you don’t have the budget for a big Christmas party this year. In which case, the office party could be just that: a party at your office.
If you’re planning on celebrating at the office, think about how you can make the place feel a little more relaxed to help employees let their hair down. Having a designated and well-furnished breakout area can help staff feel relaxed, while multi-purpose furniture means you can change up your space on the fly. For more ideas, visit DBI Furniture Solutions.
Over the last decade, expectations about what an office should look and feel like have radically changed. Much like the shift towards casual clothing at work and flexible working options, the ideal office is quickly becoming one that mimics our lives outside of work. They’re becoming environments where employees feel more comfortable and more productive as a result.
Nick Pollitt, Managing Director of DBI Furniture Solutions, credits the change in part to changes in technology. “As WiFi and 4G internet connections have become more widespread, workers can work from anywhere, whether that’s a cafe, at home or even from abroad. With so many options available, the traditional drab office is becoming less and less attractive.
“The problem is that remote working has its fair share of issues, so it’s important that employees still feel that the office is the best place for them.”
With that in mind, we asked some interior design experts about what it takes to turn an office into a home and how it can help bring out the best in your staff.
It might be tempting to repaint the walls with myriad colours and styles, but you should remember that this might not feel like ‘home’ for everyone.
Sean Evennett, Managing Director of Bespoke Interiors UK, says: “When it comes to office decor, it’s impossible to cater to everyone’s individual tastes, so neutrals are a must.” Neutral colours create a foundation upon which you can encourage employees to add their own decorations, like photographs or art.
Build your brand
Sean also says that you can add splashes of your brand colours over the neutral base. “Using the company’s colours is a great way to reflect your brand identity. For example, your brand colours could be used to promote your company values in typography on your walls. You could even extend this to the colour of soft furnishings, like your office chairs.”
Layla Chapman, designer and owner of House of Sparkles, agrees. “I believe that your office space should be filled with personality and represent your vision for the company you’ve worked hard to create,” she says. “I felt it was very important when creating our working environment that it was a place of calm, glamour and luxury, which is what I’ve created in our head office.”
For the love of plants
One of the biggest trends of the last few years is the shift towards biophilic design — that is, office spaces incorporating plenty of plant life. And for a good reason, too. “In a recent study, workers in spaces with plants showed 15% higher levels of productivity than those without,” says Rebecca Snowden, Interior Style Advisor at Furniture Choice.
Not only do plants help bring cleaner air into your office but they also help employees feel more relaxed — perfect for establishing that homely feel. Rebecca advises adding small plants to desks or nearby shelves, and keep larger floor plants in the vicinity.
A home is characterised by its variety of rooms, each one a space designed for a specific purpose, whether that’s sleeping, eating or entertaining guests.
To reflect that homely feel, Sean suggests that office environments should be more diverse. “Introducing flexible workstations gives employees the freedom to work in different zones, depending on their mood or task. For example, an open space is great for collaborative working and boardrooms are perfect for meetings, but what about those days when you just want to get your head down?”
Sean suggests this ‘third place’ should be a non-traditional work zone where employees can detach themselves from the bustle of office life. These non-traditional workspaces can create non-traditional mindsets, so your team can think outside the box.
Light it up
Lighting plays a key role in how comfortable we feel in any particular space. “Poor lighting conditions can cause you to feel tired, strain your eyes and even result in headaches, all of which detracts from focus and motivation,” says Rebecca from Furniture Choice. She recommends positioning desks near to windows or getting a SAD lamp to inject more natural light into the office to help increase alertness and productivity.
Layla advises using softer lighting too, providing a warm feeling your staff might need to help them through the winter months. “Add some floor lamps for softer lighting, as well as some desk lights with different light fixtures.”