7 Remote Celebrations to Boost Employee Engagement This Holiday Season

4 minutes • Nov 24, 2021CultureCollaborationEmployee Engagement
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The last quarter of the year. It’s the time when your team is pushing to get over the finish line and achieve your company’s annual goals. But, it’s also a time of merry-making and good cheer—after all, it's the holiday season! 

You can show your team how much you appreciate them and help everyone form powerful bonds by planning fun remote celebrations. The results? You’ll be able to boost employee engagement at your company, which will benefit everyone. 

Remote Celebrations: Start With Awareness

Your team likely has people from different backgrounds and beliefs. Not everyone celebrates Christmas. Some of your employees might not celebrate any holidays at all.

As you start planning your remote celebrations, keep inclusivity top of mind. Avoid making assumptions so you can help everyone feel welcome. Here are seven inclusive, engaging, and welcoming remote celebrations you can plan for your company. 

1.  A Unique Company Holiday

Who said you have to stick to the holidays on the calendar? You can bring your employees together by working with them to invent a unique company holiday. 

Here’s one way to tackle this. First, place your team members into groups. Then, ask them to brainstorm some holiday ideas, complete with names, traditions, activities, and decorations. From there, you can ask them to type what they’ve brainstormed on a PowerPoint slide. Then, during a company-wide virtual meeting, each team can present their idea, and people can vote on their favorite of the bunch. 

Once the votes are in, add the holiday to your company’s calendar. Your team now has something fun and new to celebrate! 

2.  An Escape Room Activity 

This just in: the most wanted thief in the world has stolen a collection of expensive jewels. It’s up to your employees to find the jewels before time is up! They only have one hour. 

Organizing a virtual escape room activity, like a jewel heist, is a great way to get your team members to collaborate, think outside the box, and accomplish a goal that’s not tied to an OKR. They’ll make lasting memories that they’ll recall throughout their tenure at your company. 

To make things easier, you can turn to a company that offers virtual escape room sessions. For example, Outback Team Building & Training offers a virtual jewel heist that major companies, like Siemens and Yelp, recommend. The Escape Game and reElivate are two other companies that offer virtual escape room experiences. 

3. An Ugly Sweater Contest

What better way to warm up in chilly weather than with an ugly sweater contest? 

An ugly sweater contest is a fantastic way to lighten the mood and get some laughter going. Organize a day where employees can show up on Zoom in the most grotesque sweater they can find—like a sweater decked out with ornaments and jingle bells. Encourage employees to bring their drink of choice to the virtual event, too, like wine, tea, apple juice, soda, water, you name it. 

After each employee models their ugly sweater, your team can vote on the best (um, worst) of the bunch. You can give the winner a prize for their creativity. 

4.  A Movie Night

Thanks to the different watch-party options out there, virtual movie nights have become easier than ever to plan

You can take a few different approaches to your team’s virtual movie night, including:

  • The Laid-Back Route: Give your team a list of family-friendly movies so they can vote on their favorite. Then, gather everyone virtually for a relaxing watch party. 

  • The Creative Route: Pick a holiday classic and have your team watch it on mute. Then, encourage employees to take turns adding their own dialogue to the movie. 

  • The Game Route: Choose something in a movie, like a particular word or action (it can even be related to your work culture!). Then, have employees sip their favorite drink or cross off a box on a bingo card every time they hear that word or see that action.

5.  A Karaoke Night

You might have seen a video of a group of people singing their hearts out together from remote locations. Virtual karaoke is one of the most fun remote celebrations that encourages employee engagement

There are plenty of tips online on how to set up a virtual karaoke event. Once you get your team watching the same karaoke videos, you can start your meeting and belt out your favorite songs, singing the night away. 

You could also take virtual karaoke at your company to the next level by creating your own version of “American Idol”—have a few employees be the “judges” and have the “contestants” advance through different rounds. May the best singer win! 

6.  A Quiz Game 

Outside of work, your employees might be experts on some interesting topics. One might be a history buff; another might be a pop culture fan. 

You and your team can put your knowledge of random topics to the test via a virtual quiz game like Family Feud. People racing to answer questions first makes for a fun, competitive environment where everyone can take their mind off of work for a bit. 

You can even host a series of quiz games, crowning the person or team with the most wins as the ultimate champion. 

7. A Secret Santa Exchange

With a virtual secret Santa exchange, you can throw some gift giving into the mix of your remote celebrations and surprise your employees with a touch of mystery this holiday season. 

To kick off the process, you can gather the names and addresses of the employees who want to participate. Then, assign each employee’s name to a number and draw names. You can draw names and match gift givers with each other using online tools like this secret Santa organizer

Once everyone has a secret Santa, set a day for unwrapping the gifts on Zoom—make sure employees have plenty of time to ship their gifts to each other. Then, during the virtual event, your employees can unwrap their gifts and guess their secret Santa. 

Approaching Your Remote Celebrations With Care  

No matter which remote celebrations you decide to plan this holiday season, remember that, like with in-person events, sometimes some of your employees won’t want to (or won’t be able to) participate due to circumstances like family obligations and time zone differences. So when you advertise these remote celebrations to your team, do so in a way that takes the pressure off of employees—you don’t want them to feel like they have to attend. And of course, prioritize being inclusive and respectful of your team’s diversity. 

Remember, also, that employee engagement is an ongoing effort that doesn’t end with the holiday season. You can adapt pretty much all of these seven activities to other seasons (ugly T-shirt contest, anyone?). Other initiatives, like sending your team members custom care packages, creating virtual hangout spaces, and celebrating milestones, can increase employee engagement at your company as well. And, alongside organizing these different activities, make sure you’re also maintaining and strengthening the other essentials of employee engagement (like 1:1s and employee recognition) at your company. 


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