Holiday Parties? They’re a Great Way to Deepen Workplace Relationships

It’s holiday party time at Globoforce. Last week our U.S. headquarters celebrated the holidays together, and this week our Dublin headquarters did the same.

Don’t worry, this won’t be yet another post about the logistics, legal ramifications of horror stories of holiday office parties past. Indeed, I’m a fan of the holiday party. But not for the usual reasons of a big blow-out for employees.

I enjoy the holiday part for the most fundamental of reasons – a chance to deepen relationships on a more personal level than is typical as we go through our daily work routines.

The many ways we build relationships at holidays

Research from numerous outlets shows personal relationships at work are critical to employee retention, productivity, performance and, of course, engagement. In fact, the Gallup Q12 lists “I have a best friend at work” as one of its key factors of engagement.

Building relationships on a more personal level means finding out about the “other” side of the people you work with every day. The holiday party can provide a great opportunity for that.

In our U.S. headquarters near Boston, the team always has a “Yankee Swap” (which I’m told also goes by the name of a White Elephant exchange in other parts of the country – frankly, neither name makes much sense). The Yankee Swap is terrific in that you learn about the more playful side of your colleagues based on the gifts they most seek to get (and in the after-swap bargaining to switch gifts).

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Of course, there are other ways to build deeper relationships with our colleagues throughout the year that we must not neglect, like:

  • Being sure to express our appreciation and thanks for what our teammates do.
  • When possible, walking over to someone’s desk or work area to ask a question instead of just sending an email or IM.
  • Adding an element of surprise in the daily routine by bringing unexpected treats to share (which is how I learned about a colleagues flair for cookie making and decorating, for example).

What other ways can we build better, deeper relationships with the people we spend more time with than most of our friends and family?

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.

Derek Irvine is senior vice president of client strategy and consulting at Workhuman, where he leads the company’s consulting and analytics divisions. His writing is regularly featured across major HR publications, including HR Magazine, Human Resource Executive, HR Zone, and Workspan.