Cancellation of New Year office parties: should one expect a feast?

Cancellation of New Year office parties: should one expect a feast?
Photo: Maxim Platonov/

Russian regions are announcing the refusal from mass events on New Year holidays one by one. Some public and commercial organisations have followed their example by cancelling reservations for New Year office parties. But many managers doubt how correct this step it. Because even public institutions make exceptions, at least for children’s events. So in an op-ed column for Realnoe Vremya, founder of Darwin Modern Education Accessibility Development Fund, former top manager of BARS Group and creator of Round career guidance app for teenagers Galina Akhmerova reflects if this will be a hasty decision because supporting programmes and events are really needed now to keep the staff involved in a company’s tasks.

The pandemic taught us to plan carefully

The statistics of various surveys and research are full of numbers. And if representatives of public power agencies have already announced their intentions regarding New Year events, companies are still sitting and pondering.

The National Association of Event Planners did a survey among its members: the results showed that 20% of the companies that planned a New Year office parties rejected this decision after 21 September. While the other 80% is frozen.

And if representatives of public power agencies have already announced their intentions regarding New Year events, companies are still sitting and pondering. Photo:

The pandemic years have already taught us to plan such events carefully and in advance and have other options.

Many have already adapted to remote formats, but it still needs to be found out how “eco-friendly”, appropriate and supportive content can be added to this.

The cancellation of an office party without alternatives is the simplest and seemingly obvious option. But even public agencies make exceptions, for instance, for children’s events.

Not all companies are ready to cancel a corporate party. All this is accompanied by doubts: if this isn’t in vain. Since it is hard to save the involvement and stable workforce productivity without more intense supportive programmes and events. While market conditions dictate the necessity of increasing them.

Not cancel but reorient activities

Employees are waiting for office parties. And their cancellation can lead to a worse mood among the staff.

It seems that companies in general won’t cancel but reorient their corporate New Year activities: budgets for these purposes aren’t cut. All those who have chosen the format of the party (mainly it is a combo of offline and online events) opt for topical themes and areas of activities. It is mainly:

  • Traditions
  • Family values
  • Health and sport
  • We do important things, and I am important
  • Good deeds

Companies’ main task is to unite employees and create an atmosphere of unity.

Entire corporate concepts with dedicated methods and the use of digital platforms are developed for this. Both a company’s ideology and habitual regular events are taken into account (online and offline events complement each other, it is not just a trend). I follow Nornickel and their project Who Does Care project with pleasure. It is an example to follow. Who Does Care is a programme aimed to support employees’ initiatives and designed to stimulate the exchange of knowledge and skills. In fact, it is work with staff: to help employees develop themselves and consequently develop their departments and colleagues.

It seems to me that corporate New Year party as a single event as well as a summer office feast or the company’s birthday that aren’t built in the company’s global strategy with modern-time values will lose their topicality very soon and become an unreasonable waste of money. Such events have a sense if they aim to unite and increase the team spirit, that’s to say, as investment in creating a long-term ideology.

I think this is why not a classical corporate party (a site, a host, a DJ and buffet) are one of the requests from companies now but an event built in the company’s regular activities.

Transformation of party format

This is what event agencies say. Corporate parties will be held but in a different format. Businesses are shifting from joy and fun to a calmer atmosphere. 200-300 people offline and combo meetings are the main request for events. Co-owner of Marvelous agency Artyom Sinyavsky talked about it: “Some activities or gimmicks from the 2000s, for instance, crashing a Porsche with a baton, aren’t ordered now. People simply want positive emotions so that it feels good. IT companies often choose a format of combined offline and online events because they have a lot of offices.”

“In our agency, a hundred per cent of all projects and events planned by New Year have been cancelled now,” says Director General of Event City Group Inessa Kholodenina. Orders from public corporations are also put on hold.

“Some clients refocused and ordered online motivational events. Some considered suitable to hold a series of virtual meetings, for instance, on the holiday’s eve, on New Year’s eve and on 1 January evening. As clients explain, this is how they want to keep the corporate spirit. Employees, of course, don’t have to participate in such gatherings in front of the screen, but as practice shows, most don’t mind joining the staff.

Vitaly Denios, co-founder of Imagine Group who are our partners characterises the situation the following way:

“We have reached an interesting stage in our sphere again. Previous formats of events just to celebrate a holiday were transformed into projects supporting the internal team spirit, work on anxiety and motivation with transmission of new benchmarks.

I can say that it is the time of new instruments, it is important to unite, create a community and let employees talk with each other and feel the support. As an agency we don’t feel failures at work, on the contrary, there have been more failures. Only instruments have changed.”

We cooperate with event agencies too. We offer Round platform for office activities: online events, ratings, a game currency as well as classic like, share and other social media possibilities solve problems with the engagement of employees and help companies to use a ready option, not to create their solution from scratch.

What office party are you going to have this year?

Galina Akhmerova