Forget Secret Santa – some employers serve up shopping sprees, murder mysteries and “Occupy the Holidays” to dish out office cheer
As we’re surrounded by the holiday spirit, there’s nothing like catching its cheer at work. After a hard year in the office, many employers are getting into the spirit with their employees. And we’re not talking about a typical Secret Santa.
Just take it from Akraya. The Silicon Valley-based IT staffing and consulting firm outfits each employee with $100 cash for their annual shopping extravaganza! The rules are simple: Go to a nearby mall and spend it in any of the stores. The only stipulation? It must be spent within an hour and must be spent in its entirety without going over.
Team building occurs back in the office when they gather around the Akraya Christmas tree to show each other what they bought. Each employee gets his or her picture taken with the loot!
This was employee DeLayne Achee’s first year taking part in the shopping tree tradition and “it was more fun than I imagined it would be,” she says. As for her stash, she purchased make-up and a scarf she had her eye on for a while.
It’s a win-win for the employer, too. Tanya Taneja, director of operations says, “It’s a fun time to celebrate and recognize all the hard work throughout the year.” Kicking off the holiday spirit in the office, employees make a game plan about where they will spend the money. “It’s almost like a treasure hunt,” Taneja says.
For Janice Price, creative team building is part of her repertoire as a leader. The CEO of Luminato, an annual festival celebrating theater, dance, music, literature and more in Toronto, has thrown a holiday murder mystery party for her team. “Everyone comes as a character and it forces people to act it out.”
Price explains, “We take advantage of getting outside of our work environment…It keeps your mind fresh.” The former president and CEO of the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia, she’s also been known to encourage her team to think outside the box and hear speakers from outside their field to “absorb new thoughts and bring it back to the workplace.”
Another company tapping into keeping its minds fresh is the NYC-based agency, Conversation. Last year the company held an “Occupy the Holidays” party by tying the theme with you guessed it – Occupy Wall Street. The masterminds at the agency re-created their own music video of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” and changed it to “The Twelve Days of Occupy.”
Mimi Lin, Conversation’s managing director, recalls this particular music video served as the electronic invitation for their guests. Once at the event, spontaneous live protect skits were performed by professional actors and the staff created themed artwork. Mobile games, music and dancing spiced up the night.
Lin notes, “Creating such a timely and unique event provided a memorable experience for staff to not only celebrate and bask in their yearly accomplishments together as a team, but to infuse an element of light-hearted team building and cheer during the holiday season.”
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