Tips for Planning Your Association’s Year-End Celebration

The end of 2017 is drawing near, which means it’s time for organizations to start planning their year-end celebrations. The Society for Human Resource Management offers a few tips.

In just a few days, I’ll be running my son’s second-grade Halloween party. Despite some last-minute stress and scrambling, I’m grateful for the opportunity to show my kiddo how much I care about him by playing TP the Mummy and Halloween Bingo—and organizing junky treats.

Association leaders can show their staff how much they care about them through celebrations, too, and a good time to do it is usually at the end of the year. “Generally speaking, it is always a good idea to celebrate both individual and organizational accomplishments as a means to acknowledge the time and efforts of those who contributed to the success,” said Edward Yost, manager of employee relations and development at the Society for Human Resource Management. “Doing so helps to answer the question of why we do what we do and why should we continue to make such an effort in the coming year.”

But what’s the best way for organizations to celebrate? The answer, Yost said, depends on the organization. “It is important to understand the organization’s culture to effectively identify a truly meaningful way to celebrate.” he said. With that in mind, here are a few tips for planning your association’s celebration:

Consider your culture. The celebration itself can be simple and inexpensive—like a potluck—according to Yost. “It is more important for the celebration to fit the culture of the organization and for it to be perceived as genuine and sincere,” he said.

Consider an activity. Sometimes planning a staff outing is a refreshing change of pace for an organization. “For a more active employee group, perhaps an outing of some sort would be a good way to celebrate,” he said. “For example, a day trip to a national park for hiking, trail bike riding, and the like.” Yost also acknowledged that not all staffs would welcome the idea of an outdoor excursion. For those groups, he suggested that organizations rent out a movie theater, a bowling alley, or a Top Golf-like venue for the end-of-year celebration.

Consider family. If your organization considers itself to be family-friendly, then the end-of-year celebration could be a good time to live this mantra out by including family in whatever celebration you choose. “As we all know, our families sometimes sacrifice time with us, especially when there are significant work projects and changes occurring at the office,” Yost said. “So, recognizing their sacrifices can be important.”

Consider the timing. The end of the year is a busy time for just about everybody, so it’s important that organizations plan their celebrations well in advance to ensure they select a date that works for as many staff members as possible. “The closer to the end of the year that an employer begins planning for such a celebration, the more limited the options an employer may have,” he said. So, if your planning is running behind and you can’t secure the venue you want, consider holding the celebration in January instead.

Consider liabilities. “Anytime alcohol is included in a celebration, there will be additional liability concerns for the employer and potential safety concerns for the employees,” Yost said. “Employer liability can range from providing the alcohol to staff without properly monitoring consumption to behavior issues that could arise from being under the influence.” But organizations should also consider the likelihood of injuries—especially if a more physical activity is chosen for the celebration.

“The year-end celebration allows the company to reflect upon all that has occurred over the period and to ensure that all staff feel recognized and appreciated for their efforts, contributions, and sometimes their sacrifices, which helped drive the organization forward,” Yost said. “Research shows that effective employee recognition can result in increased employee engagement, productivity, retention, customer service, and morale. All of these will be important going into the new year.”

How does your organization celebrate the achievements of your staff at year-end? Please leave your comments below.

(Ekaterina79/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Emily Bratcher

By Emily Bratcher

Emily Bratcher is a Contributing Editor for Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!