3 Fun Ideas for Your Company Christmas Party

The annual company Christmas party can be a great way for employees to relax and to get to know each other better outside of the formal office structure. This can bring a genuine return on investment for any business: as Christmas Connections notes, offices with higher morale see a 31 percent increase in efficiency on average. And as Sam Booth at Keele University remarks:

“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.”

However, not all office holiday parties are equal. Take advantage of fun ideas to ensure this year’s celebration is one your employees want to attend.

1. Fill the Refreshment Table with a Cookie Exchange

A cookie exchange is simple to execute. Each person makes 2-3 dozen of their favorite holiday cookie, and at the end of the party, everyone gets to take home a few of each of the leftovers. This gives employees the chance to show off their baking skills and talk about family recipes and memories. It also provides built-in party favors and cuts down on catering costs at the same time.

2. Put a New Spin on the White Elephant Gift

White elephant exchanges are a staple of Christmas parties, but you can up the fun factor by making it a bit more personal. Consider having someone on the writing staff (or just an employee who enjoys and has a knack for humorous writing) develop a Christmas-themed story that incorporates the employees’ names and directions. Then the employees can pass the gifts around as the story dictates.

3. Think Outside the Box

If your employees seem less than enthused at the idea of wearing ugly sweaters or sitting down for lunch in the break room, consider a less traditional office Christmas party. You could sponsor a fun day out of the office, such as to a local Christmas market or a trampoline park for team-building.

If you want to stick with the tried and true, consider breaking the festivities into two parts — a meal at a nice restaurant where employees can socialize quietly and then an optional follow-up at a local brewery where things can get a bit more relaxed.

The most important thing about a successful company Christmas party is that it focuses on making the employees feel appreciated and gives them a chance to socialize and enjoy themselves outside of work. This leads to further benefits like boosts in morale and team bonding, increased retention rates, networking opportunities and a stronger company culture. It’s worth doing, and it’s worth doing right.






Workplace Health and Wellness This Winter

One of the most common causes of stress, according to WebMD, is being unhappy at work in the winter season . That’s why it’s important for managers and team leads to promote workplace health and wellness. It can help boost worker productivity and can even help keep budgets in check: workers who are too stressed get sick, underperform or take more personal days. As EKU Online shows, the overall costs of lost time and productivity can be considerable.

There are many ways employers can mitigate tension and anxiety while promoting wellness at work.

1. Encourage Breaks

This applies to taking a breather throughout the day as well as longer breaks through mental health days or vacations.

The Staples Workplace Employee Survey found that just over a third (36 percent) of employees have taken an official or unofficial mental health day from work. That’s not very many, and while employees shouldn’t be taking mental health days too often, it’s essential they know they can if they’re facing an overwhelming near-burnout situation.

2. Designate a Wellness Room

According to the Staples Workplace Employee Survey, most offices don’t have a wellness room, and of those that do, many are lacking basics that employees would expect to have, including a nap pod or bed, toiletries or a way to lock the door. Meditation enthusiasts in the office might appreciate dimmable lamps or a cushy mat for the floor.

3. Promote Exercise and Rest

While team leaders or managers can’t ensure every employee is getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night, they can help encourage plenty of sleep by not insisting their staff work long hours on a regular basis. Crunch-time situations certainly arise when employees might be working more than usual, but it shouldn’t be the norm.

Along the same lines, it’s important for employees to get plenty of exercise. As noted in the Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, numerous studies have demonstrated that exercise has a positive effect on mental health. This can translate to better performance in the office and a happier workforce overall.

When managers and team leaders put these workplace wellness tips into practice, they can help employees avoid work-related stress and improve their well-being.








Your Guide to Workplace Wellness

Cooler temperatures bring a variety of illnesses to the workplace. Whether it’s a common cold or a bad case of the flu, ailments can put a halt to productivity. There are a few things you can keep in mind during this season to stay healthy and help prevent the spread of sickness.

Get Vaccinated

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season. It takes approximately two weeks after the shot for the body to develop antibodies to protect against the illness. Flu season can start as early as September and lasts as late as May.

Be Mindful of Germ Hotspots

Reduce your risk of exposure and the spread of bacteria by being aware of common germ hotspots. Germs that spread from one person to the next include E. coli, staphylococcus and the norovirus. If possible, sanitize these areas frequently:

  • Personal and public desks
  • Break room fridge
  • Keyboard and mouse
  • Mugs and cups
  • Door handles
  • Photocopier

Wash Your Hands Frequently

Wash your hands often throughout the day. Always use antibacterial soap, and wring your hands for 15 to 20 seconds before rinsing them clean. For times when you can’t run to the sink to wash your hands, sanitize with an alcohol-gel hand sanitizer, especially when you expose yourself to germ-heavy hotspots or shake hands with others.

Stay Home When Sick

Avoid spreading sickness to other employees by staying home when you have a fever or are truly sick. This helps prevent an employee outbreak and it can also help you recuperate much faster. When you’re at work, try to avoid close contact with anyone who shows signs of illness.

Clean Routinely

Use antibacterial wipes to clean frequently touched surface in your work area to help keep germs at bay. It’s also a good idea to keep an adequate supply of tissues on to deal with coughs and sneezes.

Put an end to the domino effect of illness at work by reducing germs and bacteria and by following a few simple guidelines to stay safe. Staples carries a wide variety of tissues, hand sanitizers and cleaning supplies to help get you through the cold and flu season.

3 Ways to Stay Healthy on a Busy Schedule

When your schedule is hectic, caring for yourself is often the last thing on your mind. Meetings, conference calls and deadlines take precedence over healthy eating, exercise and adequate sleep. This kind of lifestyle can result in burnout, but fortunately it’s possible to avoid that outcome with a little planning. Following these tips, you’ll be able to take better care of yourself without neglecting any of your responsibilities or reducing your workload and family obligations.

1. Focus on Time Management Skills

A 2014 study published by the Journal of Marketing Research indicated that it’s not necessarily our obligations and time constraints that result in excess stress but the choices we make when scheduling our time. Inadequate time management that leads to high levels of stress can end in more serious health problems like sleep apnea, high blood pressure and insomnia. Some of the best ways to improve time management include scheduling downtime each day, using lists to prioritize your tasks and delegating work that can be trusted to another member of your team.

2. Speak with a Counselor Once Per Month

While you may not feel the need to speak with someone about how you’re feeling, a quick monthly meeting with a counselor or therapist can be beneficial to anyone — especially those who have put self-care on the back burner in favor of a hectic schedule. An estimated one in five Canadians are experiencing some sort of mental health issue, and many of those issues are the result of workplace stress. Even though you may not always recognize signs of stress in yourself, a professional counselor or therapist will have a good idea if the stress caused by your busy schedule is taking a toll on your mental or physical health fairly quickly and will be able to make appropriate recommendations.

3. Make Healthy Eating a Priority

When you’re always on the go, skipped meals and drive-through dinners become the norm. These types of unhealthy habits can lead to obesity, fatigue and an inability to focus during the workday. Be sure to start your day off right with a healthy breakfast. According to Dieticians of Canada, 40 percent of Canadians skip breakfast. If you find you’re often forgetting to stop working to eat lunch, make sure to schedule a reminder on your phone or pencil it into your daily calendar. If you find yourself pressed for time each day, make breakfast and lunch for the following day at bedtime, and if you’re finding it difficult to cook dinner each night, prepare freezer meals for the week ahead on Saturday or Sunday.

Boost Morale in Your Office with Charitable Giving

Nothing says teamwork like organizing your employees around a common cause. While giving money is one way for your company to contribute to the community, one of the most rewarding avenues for your time and talent is working together to make a cultural impact. According to the Canada Survey of Business Contributions to Community, large companies give over $3 billion annually to charities. Whether this is something your company already does or is considering doing, use it to rally your team around a common cause and help boost morale.

Let Employees Choose

One top trend with corporate giving is to let employees choose where the gift-giving dollars or time goes. This helps form a personal connection between teams and the company. Hold a meeting and get suggestions on a variety of organizations that need help.

Let employees do their homework and vote on the best idea, or choose more than one. You could even recommend Giving Tuesday, an event that takes place after Black Friday and helps companies and individuals focus on their end-of-year giving. Once you’ve decided on a cause, contact the organization to see how your company can help.

Encourage Volunteering

Studies show that corporate charity creates happier and more engaged employees. One way to get employees involved in a generous company culture is to provide incentives. If your company can afford it, offer to match any funds raised for a charity. Reward top volunteers with a day off or a gift card to their favourite shop. Hold contests to see who can raise the most money and double the donation. Be sure to mention everyone involved in the cause through a company memo, newsletter or during the next meeting.

Use Company Talent

Think of ways an individual employee’s talent can help with company giving. Accounting can help keep track of how much money is raised, a writer can organize a charity newsletter and sales can present the case to potential donors. The goal is to help employees find their cause and feel valuable based on their skills. Employees who participate in multiple charity opportunities for their company have a greater sense of belonging than those who do not.

Donating to a good cause can help further involve your employees with the company culture. Not only will you boost morale, but you’ll give back to the community that keeps your business alive.







4 Ways Companies Can Best Support New Hires

Employee retention is good for business because it helps create a positive work environment, strengthens employee’s commitment to the organization and can increase productivity. On average, it costs a company 20 percent of a midrange employee’s salary to hire and train a replacement. This amounts to around $8,000 for a manager making $40,000 per year. For this reason, it’s important to take the necessary steps to welcome new employees from the first day on the job. Consider these four tips to make new hires feel valued.

1. Develop a Welcome Strategy

Create a routine welcome strategy for all new hires. Accomplish this by crafting a collage of key employees’ photographs and information. This information can include job title, hobbies, family information or whatever the individual wants to share. Draw up a written plan of action and remind staff of the importance of following along. This strategy may include greeting new individuals, providing a tour of the facilities or even having a welcome lunch or an after-work reception.

2. Assign a Mentor

Set your new hires up for success by assigning a year-long mentor within the organization. Choose someone who can provide on-going support to answer questions and instill confidence. Some of the key benefits of workplace mentoring include:

  • Better trained employees
  • Reducing turnover rates
  • Development of leadership and management skills
  • Reduced time spent in formal training
  • Management can focus on tasks imperative to the success of the company

3. Immerse New Hires in the Company Culture

Let new hires feel important within the company immediately. Assign goals and projects from the start, show them how their work benefits the company as a whole, and make a point of involving them in all of the social and fun activities around the workplace.

4. Acknowledge What They Bring to the Company

Welcome new employees in the company newsletter, through emails, or call them out during team meetings. Introduce them to all existing employees and acknowledge the benefits their strengths will bring to the company. Management may also want to send a handwritten note welcoming the new employee to the company or introducing themselves in person.

With so much emphasis on recruiting, hiring and training new employees, it’s important to focus on their happiness once they’re on the job. Taking extra steps to make a new hire feel welcome can benefit the company as a whole.





Random Acts of Kindness to Perk Up Your Workplace

Employee happiness at work is linked to increased productivity, low turnover rates and even company success. Random acts of kindness are one way to help employees feel appreciated and to motivate them to do more. It’s also an added plus to encourage staff members to join in and deliver random acts for co-workers because it often feels better to give than receive.

Leave Small Gifts

Take note of the co-worker who has a candy dish, and fill the dish with their favourite candy after they’ve left for the day. Purchase coloured pens for the individual who loves jotting notes in a rainbow of hues. Fill an office with balloons or other decorations on unofficial holidays like St. Patrick’s Day. Make the gifts random and secretive for the best effect.

Reach Out to the Community

Encourage employees to reach out to the community with random acts of kindness. This could include carrying groceries to someone’s car, cleaning the snow off a front stoop or purchasing lunch for a stranger. The goal is to document the random act, and the company will choose at least one person to reward with a gift card or monetary award for the kindest act.

Send Random Encouragement

Take the time to send encouraging texts at the start of each day. Cheer your team on during a big project or when someone is meeting with a new client. Jot a quick note of appreciation for a job well done, or simply thank someone for being consistent. A simple kind word can mean a lot to someone who’s struggling.

Offer Random Recognition

Encourage everyone at the next team meeting to identify someone they appreciate. Also, be sure to call someone out who consistently works behind the scenes for a job well done. Offer small rewards such as a gift card or printed award certificate. This gives everyone an opportunity to shine and encourages employees to help others in hopes of peer recognition.

Programs and company cultures that work to serve the greater good help keep employees happy and benefit the company as a whole. By initiating random acts of kindness in the workplace, you help create a place that everyone is proud to be a part of.