Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Holiday Parties - Buying Good Will and Doing Good

Two recessions ago, our company used to host lavish holiday parties that included dinner, entertainment, liquor etc.  Our employees enjoyed getting all glitzed up for these parties.  We were spending well over $60,000 a year doing a few of these parties for our bigger offices, plus other dinners we did for our smaller offices.  When bad times hit, we just could not justify this expense.  And, we stopped doing these parties for two other reasons, as well.  Many of our employees over did it at our open bar on alcohol, which resulted in liability for our company.  And, in some cases, we had single employees that were not dating anyone, which often made them feel left out of the couples fun.  As a result, some of them actually stopped coming to our holiday parties.

Fast forward several years later and we figured out that it made more sense to implement holiday luncheons, instead of dinners just for our employees and to make them fundraising events for local charities.   One of our core values is giving back to the communities that we work in so what better time is there than around the holidays to do something good for others in need. 

We found that in addition to the fun we created, many of our employees made this a team building exercise as they both selected the local charity for our donations; but then planned the actual holiday luncheon.  Ultimately, our company funds gifts that we then use as prizes.  Our employees buy raffle tickets to win these gifts that range from $10 - $50 in value.   In some of our offices, we even hold an auction of these tickets, since the rule is that the employee can only win once.   As such, the tickets they hold become of no value to them after winning a gift, so we auction them off to the highest bidder seeking a better chance of winning a gift.   Many times our higher level managers, with direct reports, purchase these auctioned tickets and then give them to their employees as a little end of year thank you.  It can get very competitive; but also lots of fun.

Our employees can purchase raffle tickets by writing a check to the designated charity selected by the office, or by writing a check to a charity of their choice so that they receive the tax deduction for making a charitable donation.  When all is said and done, our company matches all these donations to double the money going to the charities selected.  The cost for all of this is not nearly what we used to spend on our evening dinner holiday parties; yet the benefit to our company, our employees and the communities we work in is so much more. 

At least for our company, holiday parties are both about buying good will with our employees, having some fun and doing good for others in need.  Through trial and error, we have found a winning formula. 

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