Holiday Parties and That Time of the Year….

…when companies want to let their staff have fun and let their hair down. It is also that time of the year when communication winds down and employees are asked to rejuvenate and come back energized.

I wanted to reflect on how organizations can ensure staff continues to be informed, engaged and recognized as the holiday parties and end of year communication go out.

This is as important to do as anytime in the year with Indians topping the list for flouting IT policies in organizations and with companies still coming to terms with social media’s pros and cons.

Don’t miss the opportunity to share your messages

Holiday parties aren’t all about fun and frolic. Make the most of this time to reiterate the great work your employees have done, celebrate the project successes, client wins and how your organization has made a difference to the community.  Help them connect to the big picture and how they have contributed to the organization’s successes. Equip your leaders with speaking notes and messages so that they can share all the relevant information in a timely manner during the course of the event. You will be surprised how many of your employees are aware of key milestones that your organization reached in the recent past.

Remind your leaders and staff about your values and brand

Most holiday parties may involve external vendors and partners and your staff may directly or indirectly be interacting with people. Remind them of why it is important to live the values in every engagement – be it planning the program, briefing the team or sharing documents and internal information. Every good experience adds to your organization’s brand image and your staff makes a direct impact to how your brand is perceived. A good mix of a holiday party is one that includes business, recognitions, entertainment, community building and fun. Even leaders need to be reminded to play their part and be responsible for their actions and words.

Be above board and err on the side of caution

Take extra precautions to be legally covered and keep the right stakeholders informed on the event and plan. For example, if you are hiring a public venue, keep the local administration and take police clearances early to avoid glitches. Do a dry-run or an even walk through at the venue to check for gaps. Keep authorities informed of the scheduled agenda and time for closure. Some cities have regulations on how late the parties can stay on and also on noise level permissions. Think about the measures you are expected to take if liquor is served at the venue. For example, have transport drops or designated drivers to escort staff back home. Also, women employees will need transport drops if it is late night. Involve your crisis management team, test the call tree and ensure all staff has updated their contact numbers and emergency details.

Provide explicit guidelines on social media sharing

Pre-empt the need for staff to share event footage and images with family and friends by giving a forum to upload content at a central spot on your intranet or on social media assets that your organization owns. Highlight the names of your social media and media contacts in case staff are approached by press. Ideally, you can also have a designated social media ‘correspondent’ to cover the event and pen an article. That way, you also engage the community. Another idea is to ‘crowdsource’ content and run an internal contest on the best footage that captures the essence of the event.

Provide a platform for feedback

Be it a spoof on the leadership or recent policies (which may or may not have been the most popular) let employees have their say on how they interpret their world. Thank all those who put the event together and recognize the group at the venue. Even after the event is over be sure to ask for feedback on how the program can be improved.

That’s not all…

Convert the best moments from the year that went by into a capsule that staff can look up – as a video or a blog. Include the highlights from the event into the 2012 welcome communication that your leader sends out.

Have a great time with your parties! Wish you and your families a wonderful New Year!


Communication Insights at NASSCOM Foundation’s Not-For-Profit Workshop

I had the opportunity to serve as a communication resource for NASSCOM Foundation’s partner NGOs who gathered at Bangalore today, December 2, 2011 to learn more about marketing and communication pointers to improve reach, get donor commitment and enhance image. The event held at Thomson Reuters office invited marketing and communication professionals from organizations to serve as subject matter experts for NGOs invited for the day.

Called ‘BRing the Change Week’ the event runs from November 28 till December 3, 2011. If you haven’t figured, the ‘BR’ in’ Bring’ refers to Business Responsibility. The Foundation is involving the IT-BPO industry through volunteering – in one mega event spanning the country.

Brainstorming with partner NGOs

After the initial table top discussions (I preempted the needs of NGOs assigned to me by sending a questionnaire in advance to solicit inputs on their work and specific challenges) each group had to share their top three take-aways. By asking each NGO to talk about their next project and how they envisaged communicating, I guided the group with recommendations on making their communication stick.

The learning shared by representatives from partner NGOs ranged from their understanding of the communication process to better ways to use social media effectively. Some were impressed by the quality of the discussions and vowed to stay connected with the corporate resources. Other inputs people took away were about tools and templates to implement, tips on preparing an ‘elevator pitch’ and ideas to blend the power of communities with fund raising.

Workshop in progress

Personally, I felt there is limited understanding of the impact communication makes and even less investment by NGOs to grasp basics of this key function.

Overall, based on the NGOs who participated and their expectations from this workshop it is evident that opportunities exist to leverage communication to their advantage.