How to keep staff morale high without the Christmas party

We will particularly miss the mass mid-morning gatherings, where we watched the opening of an amazing 8 sq ft advent calendar. The daily ritual, performed by Santa Claus assisted by five elves, involved drawing out the name of a lucky colleague, who opened a window to reveal their valuable prize.

Let’s face it: this year, apart from Boris Johnson’s “jolly careful” five days from December 23, will be an online Christmas. There will be loads of virtual office parties, wine tastings and Christmas quizzes, so give your digital Christmas a different twist by offering a prize for pictures of the most festive looking home posted on WhatsApp.

At the end of a year, when most of us have missed social interaction, do something that shows you, as a boss, recognise that people matter. Make every individual feel special by giving them a Christmas present, but don’t send everyone a standard bottle of wine or brand of chocolates. Instead, pick something personal that they and their family are sure to have had on their Christmas list. Show you really care by accompanying the gift with a hand-written letter.

Apart from supermarkets, online retailers and DIY suppliers, most organisations have had a dreadful year. Those in hospitality, exhibitions, entertainment and travel have had a disaster. Another victim is the charity sector, which will be billions out of pocket, despite £750m support from the Government and some sizeable funds from the private sector (including £100m from Barclays).

One thing most of us have got good at during 2020 is saving money; we have had to cut costs to survive. Now we are saving money on Christmas: no party, no office decorations, cheaper corporate gifts to key customers and suppliers, and not even a few mince pies. 

Have a look at Xmas Party Heroes, a website that encourages you to “donate” the cost of your Christmas party to charity and end 2020 in a generous frame of mind (Timpson has already got on board with it).

Here’s something else that I know works. During December, our colleagues are emailing us their “good news” from the past year. Every day, our director of happiness, Janet, sends out a video full of stories that are making our colleagues smile.

Sir John Timpson is chairman of the high-street services provider, Timpson.

Send him a question at [email protected]

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