Holiday Parties? They’re a Great Way to Deepen Workplace Relationships

It’s holiday party time at Globoforce. Last week our U.S. headquarters celebrated the holidays together, and this week our Dublin headquarters did the same.

Don’t worry, this won’t be yet another post about the logistics, legal ramifications of horror stories of holiday office parties past. Indeed, I’m a fan of the holiday party. But not for the usual reasons of a big blow-out for employees.

I enjoy the holiday part for the most fundamental of reasons – a chance to deepen relationships on a more personal level than is typical as we go through our daily work routines.

The many ways we build relationships at holidays

Research from numerous outlets shows personal relationships at work are critical to employee retention, productivity, performance and, of course, engagement. In fact, the Gallup Q12 lists “I have a best friend at work” as one of its key factors of engagement.

Building relationships on a more personal level means finding out about the “other” side of the people you work with every day. The holiday party can provide a great opportunity for that.

In our U.S. headquarters near Boston, the team always has a “Yankee Swap” (which I’m told also goes by the name of a White Elephant exchange in other parts of the country – frankly, neither name makes much sense). The Yankee Swap is terrific in that you learn about the more playful side of your colleagues based on the gifts they most seek to get (and in the after-swap bargaining to switch gifts).

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Of course, there are other ways to build deeper relationships with our colleagues throughout the year that we must not neglect, like:

  • Being sure to express our appreciation and thanks for what our teammates do.
  • When possible, walking over to someone’s desk or work area to ask a question instead of just sending an email or IM.
  • Adding an element of surprise in the daily routine by bringing unexpected treats to share (which is how I learned about a colleagues flair for cookie making and decorating, for example).

What other ways can we build better, deeper relationships with the people we spend more time with than most of our friends and family?

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.

Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their company culture. As the Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek helps clients — including some of world’s most admired companies such as Proctor and Gamble, Intuit, KPMG, and Thomson Reuters — leverage recognition strategies and best practices to better manage company culture, elevate employee engagement, increase retention, and improve the bottom line. He's also a renowned speaker and co-author of Winning with a Culture of Recognition. Contact him at


1 Comment on “Holiday Parties? They’re a Great Way to Deepen Workplace Relationships

  1. Great post! So many articles about holiday parties focus on the awkward or the negative. But indeed, holiday parties are a great time to really get to know your coworkers and employees. Around the holidays, people let down their guard and are willing to share more of their personality in the workplace. This can help your team bond, which will improve your employee engagement. If your workers don’t make friends in the office, they’ll be more likely to be working on their video resume in their off hours. Make sure you don’t lose out on talent by using the holidays to get your workers involved and engaged.

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