December has arrived and the Christmas spirit is visible everywhere, including many offices.
Author: Pedro Neves | Reading time: 2 minutes
The decorations, festivities and positive environment are dominant, along with the shopping spree that characterizes this time of the year. However, whilst some people see the Christmas season as a moment of personal reflection, others see it as a frivolous period ruled by consumerism. Regardless of one’s stand towards Christmas, this season can and should be more than just a festive period, at least as far as management is concerned. With its relevance in the western society in mind, it is curious that there is still relatively little research on the topic aside from its implications on consumption and marketing strategies.
A few years ago, Phillip Hancock and Alf Rehn organized a special edition of the journal Organization with the intent of approaching this less explored side of Christmas. The authors emphasize that Christmas’s role in companies goes beyond generating economic value; it can make companies get closer to their clients, promote innovation and contribute to increase one’s identification with the job. In other words, it is a good time to reflect on the company’s vision, strategies and practices, along with their respective impacts on internal and external stakeholders. Therefore, Christmas in the organization should include a profound reflection concerning “why we do what we do?” and “what can we change for the best?” in order to simultaneously promote the meaning of work and the identification with the company, while helping to prepare and promote change.
Looking at its impact on different stakeholders, we verify that it is fundamental to be consistent throughout time. This has to do with the fact that seasonal gestures, like throwing a Christmas party or giving small gifts can be seen as either something positive or negative. Positive, if it is ‘simply’ an additional demonstration of how the organization values and cares about its employees. Negative, if it is the only demonstration of those same principles throughout the year. Employees often perceive the latter as a mere formality or an artefact designed to make them forget the reality of the company, even if for a brief period of time.
In the end, the most important factor for the interpretation of these actions is to assure that the company does not transform itself into something completely different (usually quite better) during Christmas. On the contrary, organizations should take advantage of this time to foster and echo their core principles. These should guide the organization throughout the year, given that (as the poet Ary dos Santos wrote) “Christmas (…) is whenever a man wants”.
Originally published at Forbes Portugal