Are you sad you won’t have a company party this year? Maybe after reading these memories you’ll be glad you’re staying at home this time around.
All of the experiences below really happened. As you surely understand, we’ve anonymized or changed the names of their witnesses and direct participants. Any similarities to your company’s parties is purely coincidental.
Careful with That Sweater!
It’s not easy to fit in among a new crowd. A company party can help, or... not. “I was new at work and was a little bit scared of the Christmas party,” recalls Lenka, a lawyer.
“I had the idea that if I took my funny sweater with the 3D reindeer, my new workmates would at least have a reason to chat. But the company culture was clearly different, because everyone showed up in formal dress. I spent the rest of the evening standing in a corner, trying not to stick out.”
King of the World
Nobody can sing your praises quite like you... but a Christmas party might not be the best time to do it. You see, few people are made humbler by alcohol. Alena told us about one experience from what is now a former job:
“At our company we were going through some rough times, and a bit before the end of the year, a large percentage of my workmates got replaced, including the management. So everything at the Christmas party was all very cautious, but only until the new director—fortified with a mulled wine—took the mic. For no apparent reason he started shouting, asking us if we knew all the things he’d already achieved. In the end he boasted several times about how much money he made, and added that we could only dream of the same. He averted his eyes at many a meeting after that.”
And Now Everybody!
Too much alcohol is harmful, but not enough isn’t a guarantee of satisfaction either. “One year the catering service was late, and the HR lady proposed that we all sing karaoke for entertainment in the meantime,” recalls Markéta, who works in banking.
“But nobody spoke up, and I had the bad fortune of standing the closest. Before I knew it, they’d stuck a microphone in my hand and turned on the music. It definitely didn’t help that at that hour, everyone was still completely sober.”
We’re the Problem
Summing up is definitely one part of a year’s wrap-up. But a Christmas party isn’t always the right opportunity to provide comprehensive feedback. Štěpán from one Prague ad agency gives one specific situation as proof of that—just before Christmas, he and his workmates received an anonymous email questionnaire on their satisfaction and what could be improved.
“Our CEO decided to present the results right at the party. But to everyone’s surprise, he mainly long-windedly explained how the problem is actually us. He even presented some answers to open questions and chewed out their supposed authors in front of everyone,” he describes. “He concluded his hour-long monologue by noting that if anybody doesn’t like working there, they’re free to go. The remainder of the party was not exactly festive, and actually quite short.”
Company parties are an opportunity to break the ice among the team. But it shouldn’t be just one side doing the breaking.
“Once when I was leaving a Christmas party at the startup where I worked back when I was studying, our main investor caught me at the door,” recalls Julie. “He said he was leaving too, and insisted on dropping me off at my home. The moment we left the lot, he slammed down the pedal. When I begged him to slow down, he suggested we could hold hands so I wouldn’t be so scared.”