Ricochet News

Rewarding with a party? Common pitfalls to avoid

By Su-Mari Du Bruyn - Sep 28, 2017
Rewarding with a party? Common pitfalls to avoid

We have had the privilege of attending a number of year end functions to celebrate successes with clients and do talks for a number of others.

During the holiday period, we also made it a point to discuss with friends and family to find out how they experienced and perceived their year-end functions.

When we consolidated the list of complaints we found that the same issues were repeatedly raised: 


Many people consider getting time off from work to attend the party an important part of their reward, as opposed to having to sacrifice their own personal time in order to attend. Due to family commitments it is not always possible for everyone to attend office functions in the evenings. In some instances it can also be unsafe for people to travel from their neighbourhoods to the event location at night.

If it has to take place after hours, consider making it a family event to also show your gratitude to your employees' families for supporting them at home. Take care not to extend the invitations only to employees' partners, as that could exclude some of the single parents on your team. 

Make sure that the day you choose is one on which your employees can in fact attend - do not schedule it right on month end when it is the busiest time of the month for your finance staff. Also take into consideration religious practices such as fasting rituals etc. 


Do not choose a location that is too far away without arranging for reliable transport for your staff. This is becoming an increasing concern as fuel prices continue to rise.

Consider the temperature - if it is going to be a very warm time of the year, choose a venue with air conditioners and make sure that cold water and ice will be available for free.


Ensure that there is sufficient parking available at the venue and that it is safe. If the parking is not free, it is preferable that the company cover the cost. Employees should not have to pay for the opportunity to be rewarded - they should be treated as your guests of honour at these events.


Neglecting to take into consideration the special dietary requirements of your guests can be interpreted that you do not care enough about them to bother in the first place. If special arrangements have to be made, ensure that this is done in a subtle way so as to not put employees on the spot.

Make sure that there is enough food.

Asking for a contribution

Not all staff can afford an unexpected expense. If you are going to ask employees to contribute financially to the event, you should make it 100% optional for them to attend. Not being able to contribute should be treated with sensitivity and not met with ridicule.

Activities (and themes)

If you do plan to include activities at your office party, choose them carefully! You do not want to exclude staff with disabilities. Consider making participation optional, so that no one is forced into an uncomfortable situation.

Allow opportunity for employees to mingle at the office party. Connecting with each other socially can enhance work relationships. 

Keep speeches (if they are unavoidable) very short!


Some companies ask for input from their team, but then do not utilise it. If you are considering different options, why not allow your staff to make a democratic vote?

Rewarding your team with a party is indeed one way of showing appreciation for their hard work, but many companies seem to be forgetting that a reward is more than merely an item in the annual budget or events calendar to tick off as completed.

Companies must offer something which employees value in order for it to really be considered a reward. Although it can be challenging to keep everyone happy, paying attention to some of the common mistakes listed above can help businesses to get more value out of the money they are spending on their office parties anyway.

As with everything else in business, this is another area in which to strive to continuously improve - it could be of great benefit to allow employees to provide feedback after the event on what worked well and what needs improvement.

An important way of rewarding employees and showing them that you value them is seeking their input, taking it into consideration and taking action on it where appropriate.

Source: Bizcommunity