Celebrate Holidays at Work for Motivation and Team Building

The Creation of Traditions in the Workplace Is Important

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Celebrate Holidays in the Office. Juliette Wade/Photolibrary/Getty Images

Traditions are important in companies just as they are in families. And, nothing is more important than the annual traditions workplaces establish around the celebration of seasonal holidays. A holiday celebration builds positive morale which results in increased employee motivation.

High morale and motivation contribute to team building and productivity. Productive teams are responsible for the success of your organization.

Here are holiday celebration ideas for your workplace.

Traditions can range from costume parades at Halloween to food drives for the needy in November and December. Lunch celebrations, evening holiday dinners and the wearing of the green for St. Patrick’s Day are annual traditions that people can count on and look forward to celebrating at work.

You will want to avoid celebrating specific religious holidays to honor the diverse people in your organization. But for positive motivation and team building, you’ll enjoy creating seasonal holidays and celebrating secular occasions you designate as special in your company.

Here are ideas for the successful organization of events, mistakes to avoid and ideas for traditions you can start and share.

Form a Guiding Group for Holiday Planning

In my client company, a group of people lead the event planning. Known as the Activity Committee, members from across the company plan and orchestrate a diverse series of events throughout the year.

Because member continuity is strong in the team, traditions are honored and continued during each passing year. You do need a group, with representatives from across the company, to plan and implement your events.

Lessons Learned in Holiday Event Planning

I’ll share with you some of the lessons we’ve learned over the years, and that I have observed in other organizations, too.

Perhaps you will avoid common mistakes by learning from those who have experimented before you.

  • Longevity matters. Often your committee is dominated by longer term company members who can find themselves so devoted to honoring traditions, that they do not accept and honor new ideas and diversity. They claim newer members want to come to the meetings but don’t want to do their share of the work. Shorter term employees claim the committee members are set in their ways and not open to new ideas.

    You need to make sure your committee is reaching out to new and diverse members and that people share the workload. Otherwise, the people who are often the heart and soul of your organization, retire without having developed a committed group of newer employees.
  • Honoring diversity can cause problems – if ignored. An annual hot dog lunch was transformed this year by last year’s complaints that vegetarians and certain religion-practicing employees can only eat vegetarian hot dogs that were not provided. The annual holiday dessert table contained no low-fat or sugar-free choices.

    One group brought all diet pop for their company picnic and parents scrambled to find something for their children to drink. A Thanksgiving luncheon was held during Ramadan and no boxes were supplied for fasting employees to take their lunch home. In a diverse society, attention to these kinds of special needs and details is a necessary component of celebrating holidays at work.
    • Record keeping is essential. You need to be able to answer the questions about how many employees the group fed last year, how much food was purchased, how many pizzas served the whole crowd and how much money was collected for each charity.

      Your employees will want to know that the food drive brought in 300 more pounds of food this year than last. Exceeding the company record is good for motivation and for team building.
    • Designate volunteers to serve all food. They can wear gloves; they serve fair and even portions; you won’t run out. What? You’ve never experienced fifty people descending on a buffet table and filling their plates to overflowing while remaining employees had no food? If you ever experience this, you’ll know why I make this recommendation.
    • Pay attention to the endless details. Did someone pick up plates and silverware? Is a serving knife available? Is there room in the refrigerators to store extra food overnight? Lists help. Save last year’s list to avoid starting fresh each year.
    • Many hands make less work for all. The picnic sub-committee tapped volunteers from across the company to help with children’s games, lead nature walks and organize a baseball game. When many help, few feel burdened.

    Celebrate Fall and Winter Holidays at Work

    Fall brings tree color; falling leaves; bounty from the garden; crisp, cool days and evenings; apple cider; the scent of wood smoke; hunting; Beaujolais Nouveau wine; Halloween; Hannukah; Columbus Day; Yom Kippur; Thanksgiving; Ramadan and many more seasonal delights to celebrate.

    Winter brings snow and sleet; Christmas; Kwanzaa; the scent of wood smoke; New Years; Boxing Day; Martin Luther King Day; St.

    Valentine's Day; St. Patrick's Day; and many more seasonal delights to celebrate.

    Teams in various organizations have organized these events for the celebration of fall and winter holidays and traditions.

    • Bring in a Thanksgiving luncheon for all company members complete with turkey and all the traditional side dishes. Local grocery stores are a great source for reasonably-priced Thanksgiving dinners.
    • Hold a food drive for the needy during both November and December.
    • Schedule a Halloween costume contest and parade with all staff members voting for their favorite costumes.
    • Serve cider and doughnuts from the local cider mill at a break one day shortly after the first frost.
    • For the December traditions and holidays, sponsor a dessert table for all employees. People may bring desserts if they choose, but the company should also order enough treats to serve all employees.
    • Hold a window decorating contest or a workstation decorating contest that is judged by a committee and award prizes for the best-decorated workspaces.
    • Many organizations sponsor Secret Santa activities. Employees who want to participate, pick the name of another employee. Secret Santa events are scheduled over several weeks during which the Secret Santa slips gifts in secret to their pal. Or, some groups ask the Secret Santa to supply one gift at an ending event. The gift is often representative of the person's work or hobbies. Always set a price limit, usually less than $25.
    • Serve heart-shaped cookies for Valentine's Day during your employee lunch break.
    • For St. Patrick's Day, promote the wearing of the green. One company's Activity Committee cooks and serves a traditional lunch of corned beef, cabbage and potatoes. At this feast, the group sells bottled water with proceeds earmarked for the March of Dimes.

    Ideas for holiday celebrations that create traditions in your organization are endless. These ideas will help you get started, but your company culture and the interests of your employees must guide your holiday celebrations and traditions.

    Celebrate Spring and Summer Holidays at Work

    Spring brings trees, grass, crops and gardens in every shade of green; yellow pond flowers, crocuses, daffodils, tulips, and other spring flowers; cool evenings and warmer days; open houses for grads; the return of the summer-only birds; geese nesting near the pond; baby ducks, baby geese, and fawns; the first bounty from the garden; Women’s History Month; April Fool’s Day; Earth Day; Passover; Cinco de Mayo; Mother’s Day; Father’s Day; Flag Day; Easter; Memorial Day, and many more seasonal holidays and traditions to celebrate.

    Summer brings flowering trees and flower gardens; hot days and warm nights; beach walking; sand castles; U.S. Independence Day; fireworks; parades; Labor Day; vacations everywhere; cottage stays, beach fires, and many more seasonal holidays and traditions to celebrate.

    Teams in various organizations have organized these events for the celebration of spring and summer holidays and traditions.

    • Offer an Easter egg hunt or roll for the children of employees. A dessert table featuring spring goodies is always a success, too.
    • Trips to Cedar Point, Six Flags and other amusement type parks are popular, particularly if the company helps pay the tab for the bus or entry.
    • Company picnics with catered food, with or without beer and wine, with games and playscapes for the children and organized golf scrambles, softball games, horseshoes, and swimming are a big hit with employees.
    • Hold a hot dog or hamburger roast for employees. Better, encourage your executives and managers to do the grilling.
    • Sponsor a community garden on your company property for employees who live in apartments and want to garden. Provide the rototilling and top soil.
    • Hold a company open house for family, friends, customers, and vendors. Serve finger food and provide guided tours.
    • Provide pizza for everyone in the company each time your company successfully avoids any lost time injuries and/or accidents for a whole quarter.
    • Sponsor and help pay for the formation of sports teams that participate in leagues. Encourage employee attendance at games and matches. Softball, bowling, soccer, golf, basketball, volleyball and more sports teams, encourage the teamwork spirit.
    • Raise money any time through silent auctions, 50-50 raffles, the raffle of vendor gifts, and the raffle of items purchased with employee-earned frequent flyer miles. Donate the money to employees with serious health problems or other needs or to your favorite charitable organizations.

    Your employees will appreciate the celebrations and they add to positive workplace motivation and raise employee morale.

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