Reshaping of work celebrations for HR

We scribe on all things HR to add value to your organisation

by | Jan 11, 2021

As the festive season fades further behind us, many people are heaving a sigh of relief that 2020 has also gone with it. From lockdowns to forest fires, it’s been a stormy journey to navigate. With only a few weeks of 2021 in our pockets, plans for the first quarter of 2021 are in the front of our minds with HR engine rooms behind the scenes tailoring Reward and Recognition (R&R) to our new normal.

How has the pandemic changed the shape of the ‘Company Christmas Party’? Usually a key highlight in recognising and rewarding employees for their hard work and usually provokes a range of emotions and expectations from employees. For many, it is a chance to let their hair down and relax with colleagues, without the pressure of ‘work.’ Last year, businesses across Australia have had to diversify their traditional offerings, to meet our new ‘socially distanced’ normal. With strict COVID restrictions still hindering large gatherings in some states, and many employees still not wanting to take the risk of large-scale socialisation, organisations have had to become more creative in tailoring celebrations to a more disparate workforce.

Client lunches have become luxury hampers instead and gifts to employees have become more creative to match a workforce which has spent more time at home, than ever before. A report compiled by Moneypenny found that 26% of employers have organised a virtual celebration for staff – with some organisations even sending out hampers, drinks and gift vouchers for employees to purchase their own treats. An easy option for employees, who merely have to saunter to their home office, link up to zoom and pour a drink. No late-night taxi queues or embarrassing office shenanigans is what we found last year. Only 7% of those surveyed said they would soldier on with a traditional, in person office party, showcasing how the pandemic has (perhaps temporarily) changed the face of how we celebrate.

With the economic impact hitting organisations and individuals hard, some savvy employers are offering financial bonuses to staff in lieu of the expense of an office party. A popular choice, which chimes well with staff shows the out of the box, innovative thinking from HR teams across the country. However organisations choose to celebrate, one element which is important, whatever the industry, size or commercial challenges, is the need to celebrate. The festive season, of course, is central to celebrations in December, but more importantly, praise for the teams of people who have adapted, changed, worked harder than ever before and deserve to be rewarded and recognised for their loyalty and perseverance, in a year which has been more challenging than most and we need to keep this in mind as we progress throughout 2021 which may turn out to be much alike to 2020.

About the author

As President and South Australian State Councillor of the Australian HR Institute (AHRI), Susan is a valued advisor and thought leader to her clients and the HR community. Maintaining an extensive understanding of employment law and business acumen through her work and connectivity to the AHRI and the business community, Susan is a master at finding innovative people orientated solutions, carefully balanced with the commercial reality.


Would you like to learn more about our HR strategies and coaching?

We bring laser sharp vision and expertise into your organisation to mitigate your risks and address any underlying challenges

New CEO? Compliance issues can cut off your head

As a new CEO, understanding whether or not the business is compliant is one of your most pressing requirements.   When it comes to compliance, ignorance is not bliss. As a new CEO,...

As the new CEO, you know change is needed. But where?

When you’re a new CEO, you might want to shake things up. It might not be necessary.   For new CEOs, knowing where to begin shaping their company isn’t always easy. When you’re brought into the...

6 Things Every HR Leader Should Be Doing

HR is there for the benefit of employees, managers, and the business, for practical tasks and strategic advice or simply support and guidance, no matter what your role in the business is.

Work and pandemics: lessons from the past

The history of pandemics offers lessons for how workplaces can respond to what’s happening during COVID-19.

What is (and what isn’t) an unfair dismissal?

People make unfair dismissal applications to the Fair Work Commission following a range of scenarios – they may disagree with why they were let go from their job, feel it was unlawful, or because...

How leaders should talk about job insecurity during COVID-19

A guide to navigating the language around business and job insecurity during the COVID-19 crisis.A friend of mine told me his boss has been existentially shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic. One day...

A guide to Australian workplace changes in 2020

They say hindsight is 20/20 vision, but let’s see if we can forecast 2020. Experts predict what will impact our workplaces this year. Trying to predict the future is often a futile exercise, but if...

The critical bond: HR and the CEO

When a CEO and CHRO work together effectively, the whole business feels the impact. But the same can be said for those who don’t work together well.Imagine a scenario where an organisation’s chief...