blog banner

Christmas party and coronavirus surges: Can you RSVP ‘no’ to the office holiday party?

Christmas party and coronavirus surges: Can you RSVP 'no' to the office holiday party?

Charisse Jones
 
| USA TODAY
How to survive a holiday party if you’re an introvertWhile some people enjoy a good holiday party, this time of year can be especially tough if you’re an introvert. Here’s some solid advice for introvertsIt’s the holidays, and as sure as families are picking out trees, stringing up lights and ordering gifts, many companies are planning the annual office holiday party. But as the coronavirus flares across the country, some employees may greet an invitation to an in-person office gathering with a big question: Should I go?Many workers may feel torn between wanting a little non-virtual face time with managers and colleagues they haven’t seen face-to-face since spring, and worries about mingling in a crowd during a pandemic.If you’re concerned that being a no-show will throw a wrench in your career path, there are ways to make sure there are no hard feelings. But most employers will get it if you’re uncomfortable going. “This is a complicated time and each individual person has their own risk tolerance, has their own health conditions they have to be concerned (about), and their own family members that they need to protect,” says Andrew Challenger, senior vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a global outplacement and business and executive coaching firm.Office parties will be rareMany employees won’t have to decide whether to attend an in-person celebration because companies won’t be having them, highlighting yet another tradition upended by COVID-19.Only 23% of companies are hosting holiday gatherings this year, down from 76% in 2019, according to a Challenger, Gray & Christmas survey taken in October. And roughly three out of four of those companies will be having a party virtually.  Among the roughly 55% of businesses that won’t have any holiday celebration, 33% of them aren’t doing so specifically because of the coronavirus.A LinkedIn survey taken last month also found that 69% of employees said their workplaces weren’t having any celebrations this holiday season.But if your employer is one of the few hosting a party, the most important thing to keep in mind is that you can skip it.Career moves amid COVID-19: Changing careers during COVID-19: Here’s how one millennial went from violist to medical technicianSanta during a COVID Xmas?: Is Santa Claus still coming to the mall for Christmas 2020? Here’s how the tradition is changing during COVID-19A right to refuse”Yes, you may absolutely RSVP ‘no’ to your company’s holiday party,” Johnny C. Taylor JR., CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management said in his Ask HR column for USA TODAY. “Whether it’s a sick family member, prior engagements, or a last-minute schedule conflict, it’s not unheard of for employees to miss corporate gatherings, even when they are encouraged to attend.”Rather than simply not showing up, however, you may first want to have a chat with your manager. Ask if they will have safety protocols in place at the holiday party, Taylor suggests. And if you or a family member has an underlying health condition, share that information as well.Even if you don’t have health challenges, if you are reasonably concerned about whether the gathering will be safe, “you could have a right to refuse to attend under the Occupational Safety and Health Act,” Taylor said. “Employers have a responsibility to provide a reasonably safe environment for their workforce.”Safety firstAmong companies holding a celebration of some kind, 17.4% will host in-person parties that require masks and social distancing, according to the Challenger survey. They will also typically limit how many workers can gather, take their temperatures and host the event outdoors.A handful of those throwing parties, 5.7%, will do an in-person bash without any coronavirus-related changes.Magaly Chocano, president of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization in San Antonio, Texas, says that the group of business owners will have an in-person holiday party this season, but it will definitely put safety first. Only 20 of the group’s sixty members are planning to attend the celebration, which in addition to being held outdoors will have other safeguards in place. Masks are required, and there will be color-coded stickers on partygoers’ badges. Red indicates that you want others to make sure they stand six feet away.“You’re online all day … for work,’’ Chocano says of the decision to host the gathering. “The human interaction is just so missed …We thought, ‘It’s the holiday season. We’re just trying it out.’’’Canceled due to COVIDColson Steber, co-CEO of Communications for Research, Inc., a market research consultancy in St. Louis, says his company typically hosts several holiday celebrations for its 150 employees, including potluck meals, a dinner party for staffers and their spouses, and an office bash where employees’ children are given gifts.But this year, because of COVID-19, all those celebrations are canceled.”We basically decided that any kind of large gathering … doesn’t work,” Steber said, adding that the company will send employees gifts instead while individual teams have their own small, virtual parties.  It will be very different from what he and his staff are used to. The company usually flies in its contractors to attend the holiday party. “We won’t see them at all this year,” he says, adding that with a couple of exceptions he hasn’t seen his staff in person since March. Tracy Marlowe, CEO of Creative Noggin, a branding and marketing agency in San Antonio, Texas says she and her staff volunteered at a food bank this year, continuing the company’s tradition of doing a group activity to celebrate the holidays.But instead of the big lunch they’d usually share, her employees will receive packages at their homes, then open them together during a Zoom happy hour.”I think everybody is zoomed out so that feels like a little bit of a let down (versus) being able to get together and have a fun holiday party,” Marlowe says. “But we’ll do our best.”Career, camaraderie and virtual partiesTo be sure, mingling at the office holiday party can be helpful as you climb the corporate ladder, says Challenger. “It’s incredibly important to be able to talk face to face with not only co-workers in different departments but also senior management …at a time when they’re really approachable,” Challenger said. “It can be incredibly valuable from a career standpoint.”Challenger says he’s had clients who’ve interviewed for executive roles during the pandemic without ever meeting their potential colleagues in person.”There’s so few days during the year when you’re getting together and talking about something other than the daily business item,” he says, “when you meet your co-workers’ family members, (when) you cook for each other … We’re really missing out on that this year.’’Virtual parties may be better than no celebration at all. “But one-on-one conversations just don’t really happen in a Zoom party, so it’s much more difficult to have those personal connections,” Challenger says. “Not that there isn’t value in getting people together even virtually. But it’s not the same.’’Follow Charisse Jones on Twitter @charissejones

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



error: Content is protected !!
Top