Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
I’m the manager of a field office for a company that’s had more
cutbacks, layoffs, budget trimming, budget slashing, program cuts,
and FTE reductions than any group of sixty people should have to
endure. I’m amazed we still have an office to come to in the morning.
In the past we’ve had a holiday party that’s been held in a good
restaurant. In the good days people ordered off the menu. Then we
had it catered buffet style. Last year we changed to a lesser quality
place but it felt more depressing than fun (the big cuts were just a few
months old). Skipping the party completely feels like defeat, and we
need to improve morale, not scuttle what’s left of it. Do you have any
suggestions for how to feel both celebratory and financially cautious?
PS My own boss is watching.
Nothing will make up for the loss of your colleagues, programs, or
budget. Sadly, in business nothing can substitute for money. But there
are things you can do to improve morale, sustain a sense of
camaraderie (even with survivor’s guilt), and even have holiday fun.
Focus on building teamwork and aiming people’s attention away from
the negatives. Not easy but you have to try.
Identify a budget. Make it clear to the committee you form that they
can have free rein with that budget but that you cannot exceed it
without having to account to your own superiors. Identify a person
who is generally upbeat and who will not perceive chairing the party
committee as a burden. Suggest one or two names if you have people
who would consider it a perk to be selected by you. Otherwise let Mr.
or Ms Chair solicit members. Suggest ideas like: a retro party (60s,
70s, 80s theme), going bowling or playing paintball; a dessert contest
with prizes; and/or a gift exchange with a $10 limit (the kind where
the gift can be stolen round robin style up to three times, to keep
people engaged). Have a playlist of tunes to keep the mood upbeat.
Serve wine or beer, with proof there are designated drivers on tap for
everyone. Be sure to check with your attorney for disclaimers about
this last piece. Start the party at 4:00 so people who want to walk out
the door at 5:00 pm sharp can do so. And pray for better times in