Embracing the spirit of Christmas for a small company

Lee Biggins explores how to make your team happier over the festive season. 


Lee Biggins explores how to make your team happier over the festive season. 

Christmas is approaching quickly and while for many it’s a time of joy and celebration, others feel they’re missing out on the festive cheer. Although some will be counting down the days with advent calendars, more than a quarter of employees we surveyed revealed they may not be feeling quite the same cheerfulness because they’re not permitted to take any time off during the festive period.

Despite workers wishing they could have more time off, they do understand that not all businesses are in a position to shut down for the entire holiday, although 63.9 per cent say they felt businesses should shut down for a longer period during this time. Consequently, nearly all respondents (83.9 per cent) feel that employers should be making more of an effort to embrace the Christmas spirit. So what can be done to add some Christmas cheer to the workplace?

Hold a ‘best decorative desk’ competition

We often hold themed competitions throughout the year. Whether this is to raise money for charity or just for a bit of fun, we find this inspires creativity and encourages team spirit. Employers can motivate workers to do a good job over the Christmas holidays by holding a ‘decorate your desk’ competition. Make it fun, and whoever loses buys a box of chocolates for the staff kitchen!

Invest in some Christmas treats for your team

There’s little worse for employees who do a good job throughout the year but don’t feel appreciated, contributing to staff feeling undervalued and demotivated. One way in which businesses can show their gratitude is by investing in some Christmas treats and handing them out to the team in time for Christmas. Most people love receiving gifts, especially when it’s to say ‘thank you’, so bringing in some mince pies, chocolates or candy canes will help workers to feel appreciated when they’re ‘stuck in the office’.

Get a Christmas tree

It’s not uncommon to see a Christmas tree present in the foyers or reception areas of many UK businesses, which creates a festive feel to an otherwise plain office. This is a great way to help workers feel they’re part of the festivities even if they have no choice but to work over the Christmas period. Often one or two people are assigned to decorating the tree, however, try giving employees the opportunity to bring in a decoration each, inviting creativity into the workplace.

Arrange a ‘Secret Santa’

Another way in which employers can encourage team spirit is by inviting staff to take part in the traditional ‘Secret Santa’ activity. Thankfully, 37.2 per cent of UK businesses are already implementing this, but take caution: whilst 82.5 per cent of professionals believe this is a fun activity as long as everything runs smoothly, 29.8 per cent of people don’t want to take part. As much as Christmas is about having fun, the following challenges are something employers should be aware of:

People don’t like the person they’re buying for

Whether businesses like it or not, there are some personalities that just don’t mix. In terms of Secret Santa, this could be easily rectified by asking a volunteer to act as the central point of contact for any issues that may arise. If a worker doesn’t feel comfortable buying a gift for a colleague they don’t particularly get along with, the nominated helper can use discretion to arrange for the names to be swapped. Understandably, if there is friction between colleagues on a more general basis, then this is a separate issue which should be taken more seriously and addressed accordingly.

Buying inappropriate gifts for the office

This one is simple; set out boundaries before the activity begins and ensure all employees are aware of the dos and don’ts when it comes to buying gifts. If the rules are broken, make sure staff know in advance that there are consequences to their actions.

Colleagues spending more than the stated budget

Generally, when the email about Secret Santa goes out to all staff, there’s a set budget for buying presents. Employers can encourage workers to stick to this amount by turning it into a challenge: ‘Who wins the best present under £5 award’ will make the event more fun while ensuring colleagues don’t favour others.

People forgetting to bring gifts

Secret Santa is all about being part of the team, so when someone forgets to bring in a gift, it can affect morale. Try setting a deadline a few days ahead of the closing date so that all of those taking part can put their gifts into a ‘Santa sack’. That way, if anyone forgets their gift one day, they’ll have a few more days to bring it in without disheartening the rest of the team. It might also be a good idea for the person arranging the Secret Santa to put a reminder in the staff calendar!

Have fun, but be professional

Finally, whilst all these ideas can be a great way to improve spirits and keep productivity levels high, employers will need to be vigilant and ensure nobody is forced to participate in events and activities they don’t want to be a part of. It’s also essential that, although Christmas is fun, employees remember they are working in a professional environment and will need to reflect this in their working day.

Lee Biggins is the founder of CV-Library.  

Further reading on Christmas

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