Why Have a Christmas Office Party – Employee Motivation

Last Updated on August 16, 2020

For many bosses, the perception of what a typical office Christmas party entails is not entirely positive. Fueled by a mix of alcohol and the shedding of work stresses, relaxed inhibitions can create circumstances that fan the flames for unwanted rumor mills and office gossip.

This negative view is incredibly short-sighted, however. For one, it totally negates the benefits that an office Christmas party presents in terms of motivating employees. Office Christmas parties offer the chance to reward and engage with employees, in the process boosting morale. Relaxed inhibitions and the shedding of work stresses, if channeled correctly, can be hugely positive; allowing employees to build a rapport with one another which can yield long-term results further down the line in a working environment.


In terms of motivating employees, rewards can play a crucial factor. Monetary recognition is of course an effective method of rewarding employees. However, if bonuses aren’t an option, or a company can only afford to pay out relatively small windfalls, then throwing a Christmas party could present a better use of funds and a similarly effective reward for staff.

This is because the main psychologically motivating factor involved in rewards is born out of the recognition that precedes it. Therefore a Christmas party that takes the time to reflect on the endeavors of the past twelve months and the vital role that the businesses’ employees played in both can act as a fantastic reward, which in turn can have motivating qualities.

Combining the Christmas party with an award ceremony and annual speech, if done correctly, can prove beneficial also. Mixing business and pleasure in this manner and recognizing various aspects of employees work can underpin the rewarding properties of throwing a seasonal bash.


For businesses, the benefits of engaging with employees at a Christmas party are similar to rewarding them. The value found in enjoying the festive season with colleagues in a more personable environment cannot be understated. A statement reinforced by Sam Booth, the head of Keele University’s events arm Keele Conferences, in light of research conducted by the university to explore the motivational value of events for businesses;

“It’s the one time of year that you get the chance to truly reward employees for their input and engage them with business objectives for the year ahead […] No matter how big or small your Christmas budget, businesses should not underestimate the long-term value of engaging with employees by getting into the festive spirit.”

Creating a Rapport

Christmas office parties, by creating an environment that encourages the shedding of work stresses and relaxed inhibitions, can help employees to interact with colleagues and superiors as people and not just co-workers. This essential for building a workforce rapport that transcends the merely professional to become more friendly. Of course not all employees are going to get on, but if a team dynamic can be produced that blends personal and professional relationships, it can have significant benefits for long-term productivity.

Employees that have developed the type of relationships, based on personal interactions that Christmas office parties encourage, are much more likely to work better as a team when needed. For instance, by building a personal understanding and a level of empathy with one another, employees tend to share workloads, when pressurized situations call for it, and tackle testing tasks as a team, rather than a collective of individuals.

Return on Investment

The bottom line is what drives the decisions of all businesses, irrespective of size. By having the motivating properties evaluated in this post, the Christmas office party is clearly not a frivolous activity devoid of return on investment (ROI). However, when times are hard and costs are squeezed, the budget set aside for social activities, within a business, are often the first victim.

However, for those bosses that are still undecided on whether throwing a Christmas party makes financial sense, it should be noted that it is not essential to spend exorbitant sums to motivate employees and see the ROI desired. If your budget is smaller still, even just a change of scene can have the desired effect, as Sam Booth explains;

“For businesses on a smaller budget, something as simple as holding the end-of-year team meeting in a different venue, followed by afternoon tea, mince pies or Christmas quizzes can really help make the difference. Not only will it keep employees’ spirits up towards the end of the year, but it will ensure that 2014 planning sessions are played out in a relaxed and fun environment, helping to instill positivity for the year ahead”.

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