Beginning to look a little tricky - how COVID-19 is throwing off end of year celebrations

Beginning to look a little tricky – how COVID-19 is throwing off end of year celebrations

by Freya Lucas

November 05, 2020

While many in the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector are currently focusing on the logistics of end of year celebrations for children and families, there is another conversation which is taking place in sectors and industries of many types – what about the staff party? 

 

Traditionally, an end of year celebration offers employers a chance to thank their teams for their hard work throughout the year, and allows staff an opportunity to come together, reflect on the year that was, and enjoy one another’s company. 

 

In 2020, a year which began with catastrophic bushfires, and appears to be ending with the threat of a global pandemic still being felt, such a celebration is needed now more than ever. 

 

With COVID-19 restrictions on numbers of people gathered, rules about standing or sitting to consume alcohol, and numbers of people from seperate households coming together, the logistical challenges of planning an end of year celebration are complex.

 

Employers, the ABC notes, are “having to think outside the box” and large reception venues that would normally host Christmas parties for several hundred people at a time have been forced to adapt.

 

Major corporations, such as Telstra, are taking a cautious approach, offering guidance to their employees about how to safely conduct celebrations, and, in locations where COVID-19 regulations mean teams can’t be together in person, a monetary contribution, to the equivalent of per person spending limits, will be given to employees to spend as they wish. 

 

In some states, where COVID-19 restrictions are lesser, such as Queensland, venues report high levels of bookings over the weekends leading up to Christmas, and high demand. 

 

Some venues are offering “hybrid” events, with a portion of any given workforce being invited to celebrate onsite at the venue, with others logging in to join the party from home via live broadcast, with catering delivered to them at their residence. 

 

Another option is ‘from home’ group classes, where an employee team can log in and make pizza, complete a canvas, or learn how to create a new cocktail, each from the safety of their home environment. 

 

Alternatively, individual teams can choose from a range of virtual events including game shows and trivia, Zoom discos and virtual karaoke, for a more festive flair.

 

Wine, cheese or chocolate tastings are a popular option, with some employers taking a more charitable approach, teaming up with community service providers such as OzHarvest to give something back at this challenging time for many Australians. 

 

Regardless of the format, taking time to celebrate the achievements and acknowledge the challenges of 2020 is important. For ECEC in particular, 2020 has been an incredibly challenging year, and providing an opportunity for employees to relax, unwind and reflect on the year that was is vital. 

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