The HR Juggler

Engaging with Employees…and their families!

Posted on: December 15, 2010

Every year Informa holds a Christmas party for the children and grandchildren of its employees.  I went for the first time last weekend with Mr C and our twin girls who are almost 5 and was genuinely amazed at the scale and success of the event.  A few things struck me about the experience, which I wanted to share.

Firstly, what a fantastically nice thing for a company to organise and put on for its employees. No cost for tickets, no charge for anything inside the venue and a fabulous afternoon aimed at entertaining children of all ages: face painting, balloon modelling, clowns, professional entertainers, Father Christmas, bouncy castles, scaletrix…it was really impressive and great fun.  I didn’t realise until later that Informa’s CEO was dressed up as one of the clowns!

Secondly, although it was a little strange seeing work colleagues on a Sunday, the fact that everyone had their children and partners with them made it a totally different experience.  Children are a great leveller and there was no ‘hierarchy’ of roles which you would often experience at a work social gathering, and certainly no work-related conversations that I overheard.  Just people, chatting and laughing and getting to know each other better.

My children loved it and were singing all the way home about how fantastic it was and how much they loved Informa.  And I loved it and felt valued and appreciated as an employee.  I have written an email to the Informa Group CEO to say thank you…which in itself is a first and perhaps a sign that this type of event really does increase employee engagement and make organisations more social.

Does your company do anything similar?  I’d love to hear about it if so

3 Responses to "Engaging with Employees…and their families!"

I was once given the impetus to create the same event from a staff consultative forum and it worked really well. Our CEO was a clown rather than just dressed as one, so it took some persuasion to get it off the ground, but once it was up and running it was too popular to even think of stopping. Xmas parties can have an ‘oh, no’ factor for many, but this was a real addition to the celebrations.

I used to work for QVC and they did something very similar. Every Christmas, staff with children were invited to attend Santa’s grotto. They got food, entertainment and to visit Santa too. The CEO wasn’t helping, but he did bring his grandchildren. In the same way, it worked brilliantly for keeping a happy workforce.

I remember a great story from one event. That year my boss was going to be Santa. A colleague who did it the previous year told him to look out for this one kid who he made take a promise. When he recognised that kid, he asked him if he kept his promise and the boy was so overjoyed that Santa remembered!

Thanks for the comments both. I especially love the follow-through and commitment of your Santas, Sukh, those are the things childhood memories are made of!

I agree with you Kevin that once you start these type of events, you definitely have to continue with them, if they prove popular 🙂

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