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It’s the most wonderful time of year – filled with fattening treats, ugly sweaters, and holiday parties galore.

Whether your team celebrates the season with a classic office pot-luck or a night out on the town, it’s likely that you will take time together during the holidays to spread some good cheer.

But more and more organizations are running into a dilemma as they plan their holiday gatherings – what about remote workers? Do you include them? If so, how?

If you’ve found yourself wondering if – and how – you should include your long-distance employees in your holiday parties, then we’ve got some tips for you!

Below you’ll find our take on why it’s important to include those team members who are more than a sleigh-ride away and a few ideas for how you can do so this season.

For help building an engaged team for your organization, contact us on our website here or call us at 502.753.0970.

You may be wondering…is it really worth the effort?

On the surface, including remote workers in your holiday office traditions may seem like a challenge that requires a lot of extra effort for little (or no) reward.

However, annual holiday parties are powerful tools that help to develop an engaged workforce, a crucial component of your organization’s success.

Engaged employees are committed to their work and the success of the organization, demonstrating a strong work ethic and an emotional investment in what they do.

The advantages of engaged employees are widely acknowledged, with the alternative frequently leading to damaging costs like decreased productivity and increased turnover.

Although remote workers may be “out of sight, out of mind,” they are still members of your team, and for better or worse, impact the culture and reputation of your organization.

While you can’t force an employee to be engaged, you can create working conditions that inspire and empower them to make that choice.

Going out of your way to ensure your remote workers feel acknowledged and connected may help them to avoid feeling isolated from the team, increasing the likelihood that they will positively contribute to your company and your customers.

If you need some inspiration for ways you can help your remote workers feel like the life of the party this year, we’ve outlined a few ideas below:

1. Be A Sneaky Santa

There’s nothing quite like a surprise package showing up on your porch! For remote workers that can’t attend a company gathering, consider mailing them a holiday care package, personalized gift, or hand-written card.

Sending them something thoughtful – even if it’s small – will help to remind them that although they may not be physically present, they’re not forgotten!

If mailing something isn’t your style, you could also give the gift of time. Most would agree that an extra vacation day or an afternoon off is a pretty excellent stocking stuffer!

2. Good Ole Fashion Competition

The holidays aren’t always warm and fuzzy – for a lot of families, the holidays contain a certain competitive spirit. Whether it comes out in debates around the dinner table or in a rousing game of cards, friendly competition can help to build a sense of comradery in families and in the workplace.

Your holiday office competition could include anything from silly costume contests to gathering items to donate to a charity. Teams could be determined by department or region if you have multiple office locations, enabling you to easily incorporate remote workers.

Remember to share everyone’s progress along the way and reveal the winners to the everyone at the end.

3. Virtual Parties For The Techy Elf

For those technologically gifted teams out there, a virtual party may be a good solution for you. Set up a webinar during the holiday event so remote employees can pop in to say hello and wish everyone happy holidays “face to face.”

Or, if multiple locations are hosting their own holiday gathering, coordinate the times so the teams can all video conference each other to say hello or play a game together through the webcam.

Everyone may not be comfortable with their face plastered up on a screen in front of the whole company, so make sure your remote workers are on board with this option beforehand.

4. North (South, East, & West) Pole Parties

While it’s ideal for everyone to gather together for one large holiday party, for some organizations it’s just not feasible.

Maybe compensating for travel isn’t in the budget or maybe your team is so spread out that it’s difficult to find a central location. Rather than forgo an event altogether or risk excluding your remote workers, consider hosting multiple holiday gatherings by region.

This may be an especially practical solution for teams with multiple office locations. Encourage each group to take pictures at their event to share with the wider team.

5. Bring Them To The Party

If you have the resources, the best solution may be to offer to bring your remote employees into town for the festivities.

Nothing expresses the organization’s desire to include remote employees more than a willingness to make it possible for those team members to physically join company events.

Consider offering mileage reimbursement, covering hotel expenses, or footing the bill for a flight, depending on what works best for your team.

Developing an engaged team requires your time and effort, but your business and your employees will benefit from your investment. We hope you can help your team, especially your remote workers, to be a little more engaged this holiday season!

For help building an engaged team for your organization, contact us on our website here or call us at 502.753.0970.

about the author: Integrity HR

    Integrity HR's human resources blog is filled with expert advice (and sassy commentary) on those everyday employment issues that give business owners and managers HR headaches. From tips on how to retain key employees to how to write your dress code policy, our blog has all the HR resources you need.

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