End-of-Year Activities to Keep Your Culture Buzzing

by John Piester, President

The end of the year signifies many things. You have all of the holidays and the festivities that go along with them. You have the opportunity to evaluate and assess company performance while using that to create your roadmap for the year ahead. You also have, in RedPeg’s case, a welcome vacation break from Christmas Eve through the New Year to help refresh everyone for the year ahead.

The end of the year can be a grind, but it should not be limited to that. Knowing how things can get, I wanted to make sure that my first year at RedPeg was capped by a fun-filled month that celebrated our success from the previous year and kept our collective energy buzzing throughout.

When you think about it, companies will often have a holiday party to celebrate the end of the year, but there’s nothing the rest of the month to alleviate the pre-holiday blues. With that in mind, we decided to implement 21 Days of RedPeg as a way to bring some bring some excitement to the office every workday. Take a look at what we’re up to and see if you can’t bring the same to your office place.
 

Let Them Eat Cake

Most people I work with share a love for food. I’d venture to guess your office is the same. It would be easy to go out and treat your staff to lunch one day, but there are better ways to share a good meal together.

Have you ever considered hosting a potluck? Yes, it may add a little extra labor to your already busy workforce, but it brings everyone together to share in each other’s own creations. Everyone gets to share a recipe personal to them which often brings together a variety of exciting cuisine. If they don’t have the time or just don’t feel like cooking or baking, others can easily pick up their slack—no skin off my back.

For those with a sweet tooth, I’d highly recommend holding a cookie exchange. For those who aren’t familiar, it’s the equivalent of a potluck, but with everyone’s favorite cookie recipe. A sweet treat in the afternoon never hurt anyone.

The best part about these activities is they are predicated on employee participation. If you can get a lot of people involved, it means one of two things: either everyone loves to cook or they all enjoy sharing these moments with each other. I think the latter works just fine.
 

Give Thanks, Not Gifts

People often view the holidays as a time to open gifts and receive performance bonuses. As a result, they often forget what it’s like to be on the giving end of the equation. That side is just as important and one that should be treated as such.

Not everyone is naturally going to be a giver, but if you give them the chance to do so, you’ll see the results you desire more often than not. I wanted RedPeg to be seen, both internally and externally, as a company that cares about more than just itself. I wanted my staff to feel like they are contributing to something more than the bottom line.

To accomplish that, we spent time collecting canned goods and then volunteering at the local food bank. We also took the time to write letters to our overseas military, to show our support and thanks for all of the work they do to make our lives better.

When you show your willingness to help those beyond the office walls, it resonates throughout the office. People want to work for a company that is selfless and dedicated to the greater good. If the company makes a concerted effort to do that, employees will form the same values.
 

The Little Things Count Too

I’ve worked at companies where all they’ve done at the end of the year is hold a big holiday party. Holiday parties are great, but it’s one day in a long and sometimes busy month. Adding a couple breadcrumbs along the way to keep the staff engaged can go a long way towards solidifying your company culture.

For instance, have your staff decorate a Christmas tree. Let them reveal their creativity by creating their own ornaments. We added a little competition to this by holding a door decorating challenge. Each floor had the opportunity to design one door however they pleased—including photos, streamers, stickers, etc. The most creative designers received lunch paid for by the company.

These things may seem small, but they give your staff a much-needed hour or so break from their day. Breaking up a stressful afternoon with a bit of fun can completely turn around the attitudes of those struggling. For others, it’s a fun opportunity to interact with their teammates and take a step back from their work.
 

Quick Tip

The best way I’ve found to get our staff to buy into these activities is to appeal to their competitive nature. Several of my favorite activities—Door Decorating, Ugly Sweater Day, Holiday Scavenger Hunt—are actually competitions.

When you have a staff full of competitive people, there’s no better way to fuel participation than by pitting them against each other. Keep it friendly, but use their competitive nature to your advantage! You’ll be sure to see results.
 

Bonus

One thing that people tend to forget about when it comes to these activities is that they are all shareable moments. Now, I’m not recommending you post photos or videos to Facebook every day, but there are a couple of things you can do.

  • Create a recap video of all the activities
  • Create short videos from the best activities
  • Share notable highlights to Facebook
  • Share everything to Twitter where it’s less in-your-face

The content you can create from these activities share your company culture and the values of your company. Any time you can create shareable content from a simple activity, you’ve made it that much more valuable.

 


 

The end of the year is a perfect reminder of how important company culture is to your company. Nobody wants their staff to limp into the holiday break or to make their New Year’s resolution to find a new employer.

You may not have time to implement a full schedule of activities before the holidays, but whatever you do, remember that the holidays are for joy and celebration. If your employees feel the love, it will show well beyond the friendly confines of the office.