Should We, or Shouldn’t We? In-Person Holiday Parties 2021

With the holiday season starting this week, it’s time for HR teams to plan their company’s annual office party - if they are having one.

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With pretty well all in-person holiday parties canceled last year, many are eager for a return to normal. In many ways, there is more normalcy in 2021 and yet, the pandemic isn’t over. With the holiday season starting this week, it’s time for HR departments to plan their company’s annual office party – if they are moving forward with one this year.

Some businesses will opt out entirely again this year while others will choose some kind of virtual event or alternative to an office party. Businesses that want to move forward with in-person events will likely be factoring in vaccination rates, the availability of booster shots, and case levels and hospitalizations in their area. The most recent 7-day average in Hawaii has confirmed cases at 144 per day. There is no question that it’s been a tough couple of years and we all could use a fun event to lift our spirits. In addition, business owners may be eager to show their appreciation for the challenges their staff have overcome so far during the pandemic. The question is how to do it safely.

How to lessen the risks of in-person events this holiday season

The good news is that we know a lot more today than we did a year ago about how to mitigate the risks of in-person events. We also have more tools at our disposal to help reduce the risk of a serious Covid-19 infection and potential hospitalization in the form of vaccines and booster shots. There are also therapeutic drugs potentially on the horizon.

Companies are working to create safe in-person events by:

  • Holding events outdoors (Hawaii has a huge advantage with our warm weather)
  • Asking staff to get vaccinated
  • Asking staff to social distance whenever possible
  • Asking staff to wear masks when not eating or drinking
  • Making the event voluntary
  • Having the event during the day to keep it smaller (less likely spouses would join during the workday)

Alternatives to an in-person event

There are plenty of other options for celebrating your employees during the holiday season, including:

  • Virtual event with a Secret Santa gift exchange, bake-off, cookie-exchange, trivia games, scavenger hunt, or talent show.
  • Online cooking class
  • Cash bonuses
  • Gift cards
  • Host a virtual charity fundraising event for a charity voted on by employees
  • Giving additional paid time off (PTO) to employees to use during the holidays

Each business owner will need to weigh the factors affecting their own business, such as the number of employees, the number of employees who are vaccinated, and whether employees are comfortable attending an in-person event. Remember, it’s okay to hold off on a traditional office party this year if that is the right decision for your business but there is still an opportunity to show appreciation for your employees in a different way.

How partnering with a PEO can support your business during COVID-19

A PEO provides small businesses with many advantages that they might not otherwise be able to afford. These advantages have become even more important during this international health crisis.

When small business owners form a partnership with Makai HR they:

  • Gain peace of mind that they are complying with all of Hawaii’s labor laws, which is especially important when decisions are being made about how to handle a health crisis.
  • Can provide comprehensive health care plans that allow your employees to go to the doctor for treatment and testing.
  • Get help with workers’ compensation claims.

We are also here to support your business if you are working remotely:

  • Our cloud-based platform means that your employees can manage their HR needs through a computer, tablet or phone, making it easier for them to work from home.
  • Our cloud-based HRIS platform means that your HR team can manage HR remotely if they are sick or everyone is working remotely.

Pro tip: this is a good time to encourage all employees to update to Direct Deposit to reduce in person bank transactions and continue timely payroll payments. Do not delay. Contact us today to get started!

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