As we near the end of another year, the idea of a year-end function begins to loom for managers and HR professionals. While it has become common practice for us to hold an end of year function, we may be missing the point of its true purpose.


Anticipating the start of the holiday period and the relief of another year being over are part and parcel of these parties; however, a team event can hold a deeper and more impactful purpose for your company – that of unity, celebration and employee recognition.


The term recognition is growing in its appeal with HR professionals and progressive leaders, because of its proven effect on productivity and engagement. However, are you aware of what employee recognition entails?


We believe that a pat on the back and a “Nice Job!” comment is enough to make our employees feel valued; however, these small gestures can often be superficial and “too little” to hold long-term benefits for individuals and organisations. Financial rewards are also assumed to be the most motivating, however research shows that money is low on the list when creating a positive company culture of motivation and engagement.


A recent study performed by UK-based consultancy Great Place to Work, found that the top components for a positive workplace are:

Value-aligned actions

  • Teamwork
  • Work environment (physical)
  • Recognition


We all want to know the value we add to our workplace and be shown respect for a job well done. However, when we acknowledge individual work performance without recognising the efforts of the team that supported this achievement, we are at risk of creating dissonance and incohesive team dynamics. This is not to say that people who have gone above and beyond should not be rewarded; however, as shown in the list above, team work is higher up in the hierarchy when creating a positive workplace.


Your end of year function provides the perfect opportunity to reward those individuals who have shown excellence, while also recognising and celebrating the successes of teams and managers. Team events offer an opportunity for people to feel united and recognised, thus building stronger bonds and organisational commitment. The result of which will not only affect individual and team well-being, but will in turn lead to long-term bottom line benefits.


Another important element of an impactful end of year team event is to take time to acknowledge your company’s shortcomings and hardships. This year has been challenging for many companies with the economic strain and an even more digitally distracted society – to neglect this fact would be foolish.


So, when celebrating the achievements of your company this year, don’t forget to acknowledge, (without blame) the problems and weaknesses your teams have had to overcome and where you have shown perseverance. Recognise those people who have shown resilience and creative problem-solving during challenging times. This form of honesty can show your employees the values of a company that is learning and can begin to build a culture of honesty, resilience and forward-thinking. This will not only take a weight off the chest of those responsible, but will bring forth a sense of company unity.


Lastly, with the value of honesty at the forefront of any healthy company, it is important to note that recognition need not be in the form of work accomplishments only. Reflect on everyone’s unique talents and personality traits that have had a positive impact on the performance of the company. When people are acknowledged for their enthusiasm, positive outlook or calm approach to problem-solving, they gain a greater sense of value in their role in the company. Your company is your people and all that they encompass in and outside of their specified work tasks, and when people are recognised for their unique and innate abilities, their self-esteem will grow, and a strengths-based culture will arise.


So, when planning your team event to end off the year, don’t forget its true purpose: To reflect on the good and the bad of the year, to celebrate the value of each employee and last but not least, to have fun while boosting team morale, and inspiring your positive company culture.