Will COVID-19 Play the Grinch and Ruin Workplace Holiday Gatherings?

Posted by Employer Flexible on November 10, 2020
Employer Flexible

COVID-19 has fundamentally altered traditional events in 2020 from cancelled Memorial Day picnics to postponed Fourth of July parades to Halloween touchless trick-or-treating.

With new cases in the United States breaking the 100,000-per day mark and infection rates on the rise across all corners of the country, it appears that the pandemic is ready to play Ebenezer Scrooge next month and say “bah humbug!” to the annual workplace holiday gathering.

While rubbing elbows over punch bowls of eggnog and having employees gather under the Mistletoe certainly seems like a bad idea this year, we do not recommend cancelling all company celebrations.

In fact, we may need some holiday cheer this year more than ever.

“I would argue that it's never been more important to celebrate our accomplishments after what we've endured this year," Taylor Paone, senior manager of employee experience and culture at DailyPay, told the Society for Human Resource Management.

So, what to replace the ballroom, buffet, and band with this holiday season?

You will need to get creative with anything from surprising your employees with high-end gifts to holding virtual company holiday gatherings that simulate the real thing.

High-End Gifts Put the Ho Ho Ho in the Holidays

When it comes to receiving gifts, we are all kids at heart and welcome the sight of a present to unwrap, especially when it is a high-end surprise.

Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has tightened belts across all industries, but you might be shocked how far that will go when you divide it up between your employees.

We say “high-end” only to signify that it would be nice for the gift to have a “wow factor” when it is in lieu of the annual holiday shindig. In other words, regifting leftover company stress balls from cancelled trade shows might come off like a “lump of coal”. The folks at USA Today compiled their annual tech gifts and we found some of them would be much appreciated by employees, especially as many continue to do remote work and spend more entertainment time at home.

Here are some of the ideas, by price category:

Under $100

  • Roku Ultra. This streaming device is great for all that binge watching.
  • Amazon Echo Dot. Alexa can deliver everything from jokes to recipes to the weather in this sleek smart speaker.

Under $200

  • Amazon Kindle Paperwhite. Libraries may be closed but you can still get your pleasure reading done.
  • Sonos One SL. Take home audio to a new level with this luxurious-sounding speaker.

Under $300

  • Apple AirPods Pro. These wireless earbuds will get a workout from your employees both during the workday and after hours.
  • 43-Inch TCL 4 Series TV: Perfect for the home office and you can even project the next company Zoom meeting on this 4K HDR television.

Of course, a gift card or cash works as a gift just as well. And if you can not decide on the right gift to give, you can always let your employees choose their own gift from a catalogue.

Put on Your (Virtual) Party Hats

There are still virtual options for those that still want to party like it’s 2019.

While your normal conferencing software might not make for the best holiday party flow, there are companies like Texas-based Preciate Social which offer solutions that can make your virtual get-together at hit.

According to Preciate Social their “technology makes it feel like you're moving through 3D space and allows for the expression of social cues by allowing you to move away or toward people to start a conversation.”

The company is giving away free virtual holiday party subscriptions through the first of the year for certain organizations such as non-profits, educational institutions, and healthcare providers.

The “3 M’s” of a holiday party – music, mingling and making conversation – may be welcomed by your staff, as well as any other traditions such as the office ugly holiday sweater contest and the holiday raffle.

If you need help with your holiday gathering policies or any other HR needs reach out to Employer Flexible today for solutions that can benefit your business.

Topics: HR, COVID-19