Zoom into this Holiday Season

Each year the holiday season brings potlucks, gift exchanges, and holiday parties among others. This year it has become more important than ever that we feel connected, but COVID-19 has forced us to forgo many of our usual festivities in the name of safety. While things may look different this year, it is still important to provide a space for celebration and cultivating community. With this in mind, many organizations are taking their annual holiday celebrations to a virtual sphere.

Virtual parties may not spark joy in your employees right off the bat. “Zoom fatigue” and a feeling of disconnection may discourage employee involvement, but this is all the more reason employers should offer a well-thought-out virtual party for their teams. As with any event, the key to success for your virtual holiday party is to start planning early and to keep an inclusive and empathetic mindset as you move forward.

As you begin planning consider choosing a virtual “location.” Something that differs from your organization’s usual communications platform and allows for activities. This may be using a platform like House Party or using breakout rooms to simulate different locations with different activities at your party. In addition, it is important to have fun. Get goofy with your holiday party invitations, create silly contests, encourage your employees to wear their best ugly sweater, holiday-themed socks, or even holiday PJs. Organize your event in a way that encourages excitement and a laid-back atmosphere, so your employees feel free to engage in casual conversation and find that much-needed feeling of connection in the workplace.

After deciding on “where” you will have your party, engage your attendees often and early. Offer door prizes, contests for best (or worst) dressed, and integrate various prizes throughout the night! This could be as a part of the larger activities, or stand-alone, but creating a rewarding and fun environment will keep your employees engaged throughout the night. One way to fight the feeling of disconnection in your virtual party could be to offer interactive entertainment that allows employees to engage with each other and try something new. This could be cooking or mixology classes, trivia, or team-building exercises. Choose an activity that best fits your organization and employees — think about what you believe they would enjoy participating in.

One way to continue encouraging excitement in the days leading up to the event is to send a care package. This could be the needed supplies for the activities you will be doing or, if the activities do not require additional supplies, a dinner and drink kit and/or gift card for the employee to enjoy a meal during the party. Sending this a few days prior, or on the day of can help to get employees excited about your virtual event. Be sure to send a note with the gift, explaining what it is and letting them know how happy you are to have them on the team and that you are looking forward to their participation in holiday festivities.

No matter what you choose to do for your virtual holiday party experts agree there are three things to do in order for employees to feel engaged and excited: (1) plan ahead, (2) be inclusive and engaging, and lastly, (3) send something physical. While you may not be able to be in-person this year these things will help your employees to feel valued, connected, and hopefully generate some excitement around your organization’s holiday celebrations.

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