Skills in Focus : The Office Party
11 million of us will go to a work Christmas party this year. Reactions to the seasonal do will always vary – from those who appreciate a chance to socialise with colleagues to those whom the occasion fills with dread. Either way, negotiating the office party seems to be a refined skill in itself – and one that they never teach you about in training.
A recent Daily Telegraph survey reported that popular reasons for dreading the Christmas party included poor choices of restaurants, having to spend even more time with your awful colleagues, and of course pressure to get drunk. That said, many of us will be embracing the latter. A significant proportion of us will have to take at least one day off, thanks to an over-indulgence at the Christmas party – causing absence costs, according to the CBI, of £65 million. Still, at least we’re honest about it (well, most of us): 52% will tell the truth when explaining their absence to their boss.
Despite the hazards and bad press, here at 5th Wall we can’t help but feel that Christmas parties have had a bad press of late. But they don’t have to be as awkward or arduous as many of us predict. So we’ve come up with some dos and don’ts to help you navigate the potential minefield that is the office party.
DO pay attention to your target market. Yes, we are still talking about party planning here. Christmas Parties can be a great way to build company culture and make employees feel valued. Just make sure that what you’ve got planned suits the people in your organisation; while some will enjoy an out-of-hours extravaganza, others may prefer something that doesn’t impinge too much on what is already a busy time of year. If you’ve been tasked with organising the event, ask around or hold a vote. Parties are no fun if everyone begrudges being there in the first place.
DON’T quit before it’s even begun. There’s only so much the organisers can do to make it a fun event, and there’s not much they can do to make a room filled with resentful people into an enjoyable evening. Try to bury your memories of those embarrassing or downright boring parties-of-christmases-past. Put a positive face on it, and this one might be different.
DO know your limits. Even if you don’t remember exactly what happened the next morning, everyone else will, and it will haunt you into the new year. Enough said.
DON’T take yourself too seriously. The last point notwithstanding, remember that the office party is a chance to unwind. Even for the most senior partners, a few drinks won’t hurt, and letting yourself have some fun will do your work relationships a world of good.
DO take the opportunity to network. One of the best things about the office party is the chance to build on your working relationships – both with the team that you work with every day, and the CEOs that you hope to become. What better time to make some friends in high places?
DON’T bring the office with you. Even if you’re networking, keep it social. Nobody wants to be approached on business matters while they’re relaxing with a supermarket mince pie. Believe it or not, one in 10 owned up to asking for a payrise at the office do. Don’t let this be you. And if you find it too much of a struggle to leave work at your desk, that’s probably a sign that you’re due a break. Make the most of it!
Whether you’re looking forward to your office bash, or just looking forward to when it’s over, one final piece of advice we’d add this festive season is: relax. What’s the worst that could happen?
Merry Christmas from 5th Wall.