‘Tis the season to dive into the inner workings of corporate celebrations, where companies rally their employees to celebrate a year’s worth of hard work and close out on a high note. When it comes to planning a celebration, the usual topics come to mind: location, entertainment, theme, etc. But while talking to clients and getting a sense of how they plan to celebrate the holiday season with employees, we were surprised to hear that none of these are top of mind for them this year. What is? Concern over a lack of participation from employees.

In fact, there’s been a decline in employee engagement over the years, with just 32% of U.S. employees reporting they are engaged with their organization, and 18% reporting that they are actively disengaged. As companies continue to identify avenues to foster collaboration and a fun culture, it looks like engagement is an area that will continue to be a priority. Let’s take a deeper look at how companies are approaching celebrations this year.

Yes, No, Maybe

Holiday parties can be a lot of work to plan, so we asked clients what concerns they have when hosting an event. While many said they’re not worried, to our surprise, nearly 40% cited concern over a lack of enthusiasm and participation from employees. And while nearly 70% of clients are back in the office in some capacity—whether it be a hybrid model or the full five days a week—could this be a sign that employees are becoming less interested in engaging in a company event in their free time? How can companies generate excitement for these events as we settle into our post-pandemic new normal?

Tips for increasing holiday event attendance

To maximize attendance at your holiday event, it’s important to plan ahead and communicate with employees. You might consider sending a personal note from the CEO to employees with event details and an anecdote about what they are looking forward to most. Additionally, think about utilizing your company’s internal communication channels like Slack or Teams and mention the most exciting highlights—whether that be a live band, photo booth, or something else! Another way to garner excitement is to survey employees in advance of the holiday season and ask how they’d like to celebrate it. You could ask questions about the type of venue they’d prefer, their preferred day/time of the week for a celebration, and leave an option for them to write in comments on what they’d like to see. This way, employees feel included in the entire process and would likely feel more inclined to attend. When your event is over and attendees have had time to reflect on the experience, reach out and ask for feedback.

What’s for Lunch?

Now, let’s focus on (arguably) the best part of any celebration—the food. Eighty percent of clients indicated that food plays an important role when planning an event, and 60% of companies plan to treat their employees with food this holiday season.

Seventy percent of clients plan to cater lunch this holiday season, while nearly 40% are planning for happy hour and 35% for dinner. Additionally, 20% of all clients shared that they plan to spend more on food this holiday season than last season, and when looking at spend by industry, financial firms are leading this charge by a wide margin, with 50% planning to increase their spending.

Location, Location, Location

Nearly 60% of clients plan to host an in-person event this holiday season, and they are opting for a change of scenery when it comes to where they are celebrating—with nearly 40% opting to host a celebration at a venue or restaurant. In-office events came in second (20%), followed by hybrid and virtual celebrations. Regardless of where you host your event, be sure to think through any travel accommodations that might be needed to get employees to and from the event, such as a shuttle service, or offering to reimburse travel costs.

Celebrating the holidays with a remote workforce

If you have a primarily remote workforce, you might be looking for ways to host holiday festivities virtually. While the standard tips remain applicable, including planning ahead and incorporating employee feedback, it’s even more important to incorporate team-building activities to make your virtual team holiday party one to remember. Fun activities can help you boost remote employee’s morale and build your company culture. Ideas to consider include digital holiday bingo, virtual gingerbread house making, a happy hour and more. After you’ve finalized the activities for your virtual celebration, a Grubhub Corporate Account can help you make your party extra fun. We make it easy for you to extend meal credits to your employees to enjoy a delicious meal or treat during your party.

No matter how your company chooses to celebrate, fostering a strong workplace culture is crucial. It’s the backbone of creating an environment that encourages employees to collaborate and connect with one another. The holiday season is always the perfect time to show appreciation for their hard work throughout the year. If you’re interested in creating a delicious and memorable holiday celebration, or looking to discuss ways to boost employee morale year-round, reach out and let us help!