By Elliot M. Kass
A well-run celebratory event “can be just as effective at improving employee engagement as a small cash bonus,” according to HR in Asia, an online digital media publication and events platform.1
That’s important when you consider that disengaged employees cost the U.S. economy $483 to $605 billion a year in lost productivity, according to a Gallup report.2 On the flip side, companies with engaged employees outperform those with disengaged employees. The same study found that highly engaged workgroups are 17 percent more productive and 21 percent more profitable than disengaged groups. They also see 70 percent fewer safety incidents and 40 percent fewer quality defects.
Staff appreciation parties can be a great idea for boosting those engagement levels. “We love office parties because they’re great for engagement,” notes Quantum Workplace, a developer of employee engagement software. “They’re rare workplace occasions where titles are tossed out the window and everyone can relax and connect.”3
There are, of course, many ways to throw a party. But when it comes to appreciating employees and rewarding their efforts, Baudville, a provider of employee recognition solutions, recommends choosing ideas tied to corporate values but with enough latitude and imagination to allow for a good time to be had by all.4
Here are seven ideas from a variety of employee recognition experts for staff appreciation party themes that likely align with most SME corporate values and can be customized to a company’s individual situation or history.
1. If a company wants to show appreciation for its employees’ heroic efforts, one idea is to throw a party with a superhero theme. This is likely to bring out employees’ creative sides and motivate them for that next big project.5
2. The best staff appreciation party ideas are those that are particularly meaningful to the company. One way an SME can achieve this is to throw a flashback party themed around the year in which the SME was founded. Get everyone in on the fun by inviting employees to dress in the attire that was typical of that period.6
3. For a Spirit Day party, employees are encouraged to wear the uniforms of their favorite sports teams. Along with the dress up, the event can include an award ceremony that uses sport metaphors to celebrate workplace accomplishments, or simply watch a game and share pizzas.7
4. SMEs know their employees occasionally need to blow off some steam. Those with offices in the New York tri-state area can take staff to Stumpy’s Hatchet House in Eaton, NJ.8 This party site is one of the nation’s first indoor hatchet throwing venues—a place to bond with co-workers by hurling diminutive axes at wooden targets. Nuff said.9
5. Another great staff appreciation party idea is a Texas-style barbeque. In Texas, everything is BIG, which can tie in nicely with many SME objectives. Like the company’s goals, everything at the party can be HUGE and GIGANTIC, assuring that everyone will have a smokin’ good time.10
6. Don’t overlook more serious themes, like staging an event around random acts of kindness. Some of these can take place throughout the preceding week, during which employees are encouraged to look for opportunities to help each other out. Others can be directed outward to the community, where activities are organized to help those in need. The overarching message is that all of these actions reflect the company’s values, and an end-of-week gathering can be used to celebrate the deeds of employees with the vision to look beyond themselves and their department.11
7. Staff appreciation parties celebrate triumph over adversity—a great metaphor for which is a corporate obstacle course. The ‘obstacles’ can represent real challenges that employees had to overcome, and awards can be given to both the contest winners and those that persisted at their jobs to accomplish important business goals. This can help enhance teamwork, as employees are likely to bond while working together to navigate fun and surprising stumbling blocks.12
Staff appreciation parties are a highly effective and popular idea for acknowledging employees, showing gratitude for their efforts, and deepening their engagement with the company. The best parties allow for plenty of fun but are also organized around themes that colorfully express an SME’s values.
Elliot Kass is a journalist who has covered global business and technology from New York, London, and San Francisco for more than 30 years.
1. “No Holiday Party? Are You Losing Out on Employee Engagement?” HR in Asia; http://www.hrinasia.com/employee-relations/no-holiday-party-are-you-losing-out-on-employee-engagement/
2. State of the American Workplace 2017, Gallup; https://www.gallup.com/workplace/238085/state-american-workplace-report-2017.aspx
3. “Holiday Parties for Employee Appreciation: 8 Do’s and Don’ts for Employers,” Quantum Workplace; https://www.quantumworkplace.com/future-of-work/holiday-parties-employee-appreciation-8-dos-donts-employers/
4. “Ten Theme Ideas for Employee Appreciation Day,” Baudville; https://www.baudville.com/resourcecenter2/article.aspx?id=514
5. “50 Unique Employee Appreciation Party Ideas,” Queen of Hearts Catering; https://queenofheartscatering.com/employee-appreciation-party-ideas/
7. “25 Epic Office Party Ideas That’ll Have Everyone Buzzing for Weeks,” SnackNation; https://www.snacknation.com/blog/office-party-ideas/
8. “Learn About Stumpy’s,” Stumpy’s Hatchet House; https://stumpyshh.com/
9. “25 Epic Office Party Ideas That’ll Have Everyone Buzzing for Weeks,” SnackNation; https://www.snacknation.com/blog/office-party-ideas/
10. “Corporate Event Theme Ideas,” Party411.com; http://www.party411.com/PlanYourParty/CorporateEventIdeas/EventThemeIdeas.aspx
11. “Ten Theme Ideas for Employee Appreciation Day,” Baudville; https://www.baudville.com/resourcecenter2/article.aspx?id=514
12. “50 Unique Employee Appreciation Party Ideas,” Queen of Hearts Catering; https://queenofheartscatering.com/employee-appreciation-party-ideas/