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Why isn't anyone excited about the Christmas party?
I’m hearing from many professionals that their staffers are just not that into the social side of work these days. Back before the pandemic, they tell me, people used to be excited about the holiday party, or happy to go out after work for a beer with the team, or looking forward to the company picnic. But not anymore. It just seems like… a complication.
For younger generations, there may be two primary causes for this socializing-outside-of-work reluctance. First off, the people hired in the past three years or so did not internalize the pre-pandemic corporate culture or make the in-person connections that more experienced professionals did. They don’t know what they’re missing.
Second, many of the Millennials in your office are in their prime baby-and-young-children years. They need to coordinate childcare with their partners or caregivers, and it’s a heavy lift for many. A spouse who has juggled their own work-and-childcare schedule all day might accept “I need to work until 7 tonight to get this project out the door” but NOT be cool with “I need to go get a beer with the people I just spent the whole day with.”
Don’t assume people can take the time for something they now see as non-essential. If you would like to rekindle the corporate culture, consider holding your team’s festivities during work hours, preferably on a day that is A) an in-the-office day for all/most of the hybrid team members and B) not just before a big deadline on a major project. Order in tasty foods (consider any allergies, or religious/dietary restrictions of your team members, and make sure everyone has something they LIKE to eat, not just “You’re vegetarian? Here’s a bowl of lettuce”). Provide a nice gift to each person from the company and/or the boss (you), and maybe also organize a Secret Santa or White Elephant gift swap (with a low max-spending cap). Ask people to share their best memory of the past year with the team, and create a positive team-building vibe.
Keep it on the short side (1-2 hours max), positive, and fun. If you leave them wanting more, ask them if they want to do it again next year and get that enthusiastic affirmation.
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