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Despite hard times, don't scrap end of year parties

Dec 10, 2012

By Liza van Wyk

The festive season is here and many employers that have traditionally displayed their generosity during the yuletide season are faced with the difficult decision of whether to foot a bill for the end of the year party they can ill-afford or cancel it.

Indeed, the cost of end of the year parties is coming under scrutiny from some employers.

Cutting costs, whether in relation to parties or presents, is never going to be popular with employees. Employers should think twice about whether the cost saving is worth the disruption. If it is a small amount, a company may just keep paying because the disincentive is not worth the saving.

For me, to boost morale amongst its workers employers should still lay on a seasonal treat. Scrapping the end of the year party risks alienating workers even more in these tough economic times and will make them reluctant to go the extra mile for their company in the future.

The benefits of an annual get-together cannot be underestimated. It encourages communication, motivates staff and rewards them at a time when other perks, such as pay raises and bonuses, are not always an option.

A cheap and cheerful end of the year party may be the best many employers can afford to offer their staff this year. Despite the tough economic times, there is an option of a cheap and cheerful festive season.

Employers can provide tokens of appreciation at virtually no cost. For example, they could offer a half-day off for festive season shopping or New Year recovery.

Of course, this will have implications for the business but it may suit the organisation if time off is scheduled for quieter periods. Alternatively, employers could increase staff discounts on their own products for a limited period, so helping employees to pay for presents or food for the party season.

Alternatively, employers could consider offering their staff experiences. These can range from spa treats provided in the office, just like those massages provided at restaurants while guests are enjoying their meals.

Employers can also show the appreciation for employees' hard work at the end of the year by offering them vouchers. Voucher companies offer branded festive vouchers for anything from the super- market shop to travel, gifts, cinema trips and experience days.

The value of these gestures is less important than the fact the employer is taking the time to thank staff for their work during the year.

So let the year-end parties begin. Enjoy.