2021 Year End Celebration Trends
At a recent MEA Town Hall, MEA Members Jaqueline Poquette of Westlake Plastics Company and Chelsea Corson of ELAP Services spoke about their plans for their 2021 Year-End Celebration and how they came to these decisions to fit in with their workplace culture. Matt Roessler, Sr. Member Consultant at MEA, also polled our attendees to gauge what other MidAtlantic Employers are planning for their end-of-year events.
Westlake Plastics Company Year End Plan
Our two guests have very different plans for holiday celebrations. For Jacqueline Poquette and employees of Westlake Plastics Company, there is going to be an in-person celebration. This decision was partly due to employer size and employee feedback. Although this event will be in person, it will occur in a large outside, a heated tent in February of the new year in hopes for improvements with COVID and to allow for social distancing.
For the employees of Westlake Plastics, the end-of-the-year celebration is more than just a party. It has become a staple of company culture. Although they held a fun virtual event in 2020, employees missed the aspect of being in-person.
Westlake Plastics took all this feedback into consideration for the planning of the 2021 year-end celebration. Although it is pushed back to February, the company is encouraging employees to bring their partners and spouses. They are also planning something for employees who do not feel comfortable celebrating in person so everyone is recognized and included.
ELAP Services Year End Plan
On the other hand, Chelsea Corson and the employees of ELAP Services are hosting a virtual event this year. This is partly due to the company’s recent growth from 250 to 1,200 employees. Since ELAP Services has a large employee count and employees are spread across multiple states, it is harder for everyone to get together and social distance.
In the past, ELAP Services had a large in-person event in Malvern, PA with photos booths and dessert bars. However, in 2020, they had to restrategize and implement a completely virtual holiday party. The company also started “12 Days of Gifting” leading up to the event, where they gave away a Peloton, TV, and $1,000. The party was very well-received by ELAP Services employees; and because of this, they have decided to do it again this year. Employees can expect a visit from Santa and a reading of the Night Before Christmas. Leadership and select departments have also gotten involved with messages and videos.
MidAtlantic Employer Year End Plans
Based on our responses, most employers are still undecided when it comes to end-of-year celebration plans. Although some are undecided, 30% of employers have decided to host an in-person event and 11% have decided to host a virtual event. Some employers have even opted out of a party altogether with 16% of employers sending a holiday gift instead.
Most respondents are not requiring vaccinations for their in-person event with 64% of respondents choosing no. However, 36% of employers are requiring vaccines. Amy McAndrew, Esq., Director of Legal and Compliance services at MEA, advised that if you are considering mandating vaccines for your holiday party, but you do not mandate vaccines in the workplace, you may be undermining your case for requiring vaccines at the party.
This response is surprising. Most employers did not take employee feedback into consideration when planning year-end celebrations. This could be due to other factors like employer size and ability to social distance.
Lastly, we found that most of our respondents who are hosting a virtual event are NOT using a third party to hold and facilitate the event.
MEA has shown you two very different interpretations of what holiday parties look like this year. There is no right or wrong way to throw a holiday party. However, your organization needs to consider your commitment to keeping your employees safe. If you believe hosting an in-person event will jeopardize your employees, it may be best to consider a hybrid or completely virtual event.
If you are hosting an in-person event, what are you doing to keep your employees safe? Amy McAndrew suggests having your in-person event spread across two rooms: one with activities and one with food. This way employees who would like to wear their masks have the opportunity to in the room with the activities.