According to a ComRes survey conducted by Clownfish Events, 67% (two thirds) of UK adults agree that work parties are a good way for employers to reward their staff, rising to almost three quarters (73%) for millennials. Workers also agreed that having a chance to socialise with colleagues improves their performance at work, with 55% believing it has a positive impact. Across all age ranges, millennials were found to be most interested in being sociable, with 70% agreeing it helps to improve performance.
Yet, as we approach the winter and start of the end of year work party planning season, many companies, given all the economic uncertainty of Brexit, are still undecided about whether to make their usual investment in an office party. This year, decisions are being made much later in the day, which potentially means having to pull out all the stops for a spectacular celebration at the last minute.
So if you are thinking about the office party this year but haven’t made the final commitment, what should be on your agenda? What are the latest trends to be aware of? We caught up with Hannah Sheppard, Events Director at Clownfish Events to see.
Firstly, there is a wider expectation for businesses to be regarded as more socially responsible in terms of spending on events by both employees and end consumers. This is true across all industry sectors and it has had a significant impact on the structure and format of the traditional work party. Out are the typical boozy dinners of the past and instead, companies are more likely to run an away day offering yoga and the chance for a digital detox. Or perhaps they do a bit of both, giving people the choice.
Looking at all the event briefs Clownfish are working on currently, these are some of the top trends we’re seeing when it comes to hosting a really memorable work Christmas party.
Office parties are now more carefully considered as events and are designed to focus on celebrating multiple objectives. So, although having a get together to socially bond around Christmas time is important, they are also being organised to deliver important strategic messages at the same time. These can range from announcing financial success, sharing business goals, to acknowledging the ongoing commitment of employees with an award ceremony.
Clearly not everyone celebrates Christmas, but we all celebrate the New Year and enjoy the holiday season as a whole. Greater cultural diversity in workplaces means people are moving away from just celebrating ‘Christmas’ as a religious event to having parties that celebrate the wider ‘winter holiday’ period and end of year successes.
Work/life balance is a huge trend and mindfulness and wellbeing as themes are now very common at office parties. This can range from having a hand and neck massage at a cocktail party, to events with a dinner dance format also offering a ‘chill out’ zone for those wanting a chance to relax and unwind.
Food and drink menus also reflect the increased emphasis on wellbeing. There’s a much greater selection of non-alcoholic options available and an increasing number of people do not drink alcohol at all. Food choices have also evolved and although the traditional Christmas menus are still popular, they are often complemented with more modern and healthier, lighter food choices, so everyone is happy. This year, vegan food will be the biggest new trend and expect a wide range of unusual mocktails too.
A softer design influence is visible, from the initial event concept and set, to the room set up and furniture. It is common to see some outdoor space introduced where possible and companies are choosing comfy sofas for relaxing and a much more cosy atmosphere, even at cocktail parties.
Venues are becoming more creative and inspiring, in an attempt to do things differently and also be more economical. Boutique hotels can be beautiful but they come at a high price and not all companies can justify the spend so they want alternatives. We’ve organised fabulous Christmas parties using anything from company car parks to warehouses and the factory floor area. The most unlikely spaces are being transformed to create amazing winter wonderlands as people want to show they can challenge assumptions and demonstrate what can be achieved with some creativity. It’s a very inspiring message for employees to see and helps the company to communicate that they are different.
A sense of belonging
Overall, when hosting an event, brands are becoming much more mindful about creating a sense of belonging for the audience and giving them a space for reflection. Yes it’s a party, but there is always another very important message that needs to be communicated and understood. This can be done successfully by taking guests on a ‘journey’ during the evening and trying to evoke their emotions. It makes the whole event experience that bit more memorable and can be a very powerful way to get the message across.