Home Fitness guide With creativity, a virtual office holiday party can be very festive.

With creativity, a virtual office holiday party can be very festive.

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Johnny C. Taylor Jr.

Johnny C. Taylor Jr. discusses your human resources issues in a series for USA TODAY. Taylor is President and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management, the world’s largest professional human resources society and author of “Reset: A Leader’s Guide to Work in an Age of Upheaval.” “

Questions are submitted by readers, and Taylor’s answers below have been edited for length and clarity.

Have a question? Do you have an HR or professional question that you would like me to answer? Submit it here.

Question: Faced with the threat of the omicron variant, we have decided to cancel our annual holiday party for the second year in a row. What are some great ways to safely celebrate this holiday season? – Darlene

Johnny C. Taylor Jr .: Unfortunately, with all the uncertainty surrounding the newly identified omicron COVID-19 variant, many organizations like yours are once again being forced to rethink their holiday plans. This is especially disheartening, given our collective experience last year with the cancellation of all in-person gatherings except the smallest.

Your question is personal to me: As President and CEO of a professional association employing hundreds of people, we had to make the difficult decision to cancel our annual office party for the second year in a row. The point is, we don’t know what the science is going to tell us in a week, and we don’t want to risk a big gathering turning into a super spreader event. While your in-person plans may have been reversed, there are still some promising alternatives worth considering.

Throughout the pandemic, several companies have stepped in to meet the need for more dynamic virtual events, and many are succeeding in delivering truly innovative experiences. They’re discovering creative ways to bring people together to distract from work and instill fun, camaraderie, and even a healthy dose of competition. There is a plethora of virtual activities, including games, trivia, and mystery-solving. Team building activities allow participants to discover themselves in a new context.

Some amazing entrepreneurs even organize virtual craft sessions. Several talented bartenders and chefs have taken their crafts online to host multi-person events to virtually guide attendees through the process of making festive drinks and signature holiday recipes. Learning how to make eggnog, gingerbread cookies, peppermint bark or mulled wine can leave lasting impressions on employees.

Make sure to tailor your holiday event to suit your corporate culture, reinforce the value of your business, and emphasize the collective “vibe” you want to create. With a little creativity and ingenuity, you could finally bring joy to your staff. I wish you, your organization and your people a very happy New Year!

Q: I own a mortgage company. A recent poll found that many of them have expressed an interest in personal health and fitness. What kinds of health and wellness benefits should we explore? – Penny

Taylor: Congratulations to your company for surveying their employees. When creating positive experiences for employees, the first step is to listen to employees and get a feel for what is important in their lives. Today’s workers appreciate support in the areas of physical and mental well-being.

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Start by reviewing your health insurance and employee assistance program offerings. Often many health and wellness benefits are already available but are underutilized by employees. Check their usage rates. If they’re low, you might want to promote them further or replace them with offers that better meet the needs of your employees. There are even virtual wellness classes available with a plethora of fitness and nutrition classes to explore.

Not all wellness initiatives require a large financial investment. Local community wellness programs, like yoga in the park and healthy cooking demonstrations, are great opportunities to share with your staff. Your local health department is also a valuable resource for connecting your workforce to wellness opportunities across the region.

To take it a step further, you can even partner with local wellness providers to create discount programs for memberships and classes. If there is widespread interest, there may also be opportunities to sponsor targeted fitness programs and demonstrations.

Whatever options you decide to employ, let your employees know. Promote these opportunities in newsletters, workplace signage, and at corporate events. Keep listening to feedback, so you can tailor your offerings to the needs of your employees and get the best return on your investments. Continue to stand up for the health and well-being of your workers, and they will appreciate it!