Speaking on some of the innovative ways to celebrate the festival, Ashish Chattoraj, CHRO, PayU India, said, “We have planned an online Christmas party, with a few employees dressing as Santa!”

By Abhishek Sahu

What Covid, no doubt, compelled organisations to do is that instead of festivities at the workplace, they are conducting activities virtually. Some companies have already begun the festive engagement, which will go on till Christmas Eve and New Year’s. And industry leaders believe the festive spirit is intact and everyone is looking forward to Christmas.

Getting a rare look at how employees celebrate as a family

At PayU India, the HR team has already started various Christmas-themed virtual games, contests and group activities. Even though employees are not physically together, teams across departments are striving to create shared experiences through initiatives like a Christmas carol session and a renowned stand-up comedian’s performance.

Speaking on some of the innovative ways to celebrate the festival, Ashish Chattoraj, CHRO, PayU India, said, “We have even planned an online Christmas party, with a few employees dressing as Santa!”

According to him, the great thing about online celebrations is that it gives a chance to employees from different cities to interact. “This year, we have made an effort to include the employees’ families in our celebrations. Through activities like Christmas photo contests and the virtual Christmas party, we will get a rare look at how our employees celebrate as a family,” he said.

At the end of a uniquely challenging year, for Jatin Ahuja, Founder & CEO, Big Boy Toyz, Christmas will offer much-needed solace to many people.

With some modifications, Big Boy Toyz is still making the most of this wonderful time. “We regularly plan giveaways and gifts. Also, we are planning for a virtual showroom visit and do live interaction to answer all the questions of our social media family,” Ahuja said.

He further said, “Festivities play a significant role in bringing people together – everyone looks forward to this season with celebrations in offices. At BBT, we are planning the Secret Santa Day on December 24. We even have surprise gifts for the employees followed by spending some quality time with the entire team having some motivational discussions.”

This year the celebration & engagement will be more rational

Unquestionably, Christmas in organisations pre-Covid-19 has always been an enriched affair in terms of high emotional engagement with a lot of fun pills and enjoyment in the form of events and colour. It has always been in a happy physical office space. Secret Santa gifting, Thanksgiving, fashion shows, flash-mob etc. Instant employee experience used to be an all-time high.

But, Abha Nair, Vice President – People, Spykar Lifestyles, opines that this year the celebration or engagement will be more rational.

“The feel-good emotional factor with events in physical office space is not a possibility. Only the Philosophy of Say, Stay & Strive will work with an online engagement agenda which will surely be satisfying and long-term. This year, we will celebrate values to inculcate a great culture in our organisation,” Nair said.

Similarly, Perfetti Van Melle India’s Christmas celebrations continue with a tweak. Akin to everything else, there’s an element of virtual while employees maintain the spirit of togetherness and bid adieu to the year gone bye.

Speaking on what would still be missing in this year’s Christmas despite virtual interventions, Ritu Kochhar, Head – Human Resources, Perfetti Van Melle India, said, “We all miss the physical interactions, the waft of ‘plum cake’, the year-end lunches and the hugs and laughter that come along with. It’s the season to be merry and we are missing the spirit of togetherness that’s generated in the physical presence of each other.”

To compensate, Kochhar said the celebrations are planned virtually. “Our empowered people action team ‘Bureau of Serious Fun’ is planning for ‘Secret Santa’ for all of us. Our people would receive customised gifts at home while they play the game of guessing the ‘Secret Santa’,” she said.

Virtual ‘Xmas and New Year Carnival’

Falling on a Friday, many might be viewing Christmas as a long weekend. Given the current scenario of extended work hours and work from home burn out, this might be seen as a good opportunity for a break.

Following the trend, Marching Sheep is planning a Christmas themed team social virtually. As Sonica Aron, Founder & Managing Partner, Marching Sheep, put it, “The intent is to have some fun together.”

Since people across organisations have shown resilience, companies and their teams are working around the constraints imposed by the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown. “So, what’s important is that we celebrate this Christmas with an attitude of gratitude for all that is good and positive around us, for what this pandemic has taught us, that we are strong and resilient, we can learn and adapt and evolve,” Aron said.

As Christmas has always been about the spirit of togetherness and traditions, Future Generali India Life Insurance is looking forward to keeping up with its traditions and festivities, but true to our times, all of them will be digital.

Ruchira Bhardwaja, CHRO, Future Generali India Life Insurance, said, “This year, we are looking to take the celebrations to our employees’ homes. The virtual ‘Xmas and New Year Carnival’ will see some interesting activities being planned from December 24 to 31, 2020.”

Speaking of celebration amid remote work culture, Bhardwaja believes home is not a place but a feeling. “Even if we are apart amidst these difficult times, we are united by the feeling of togetherness and passion for making a difference! Even if one may not hold loved ones close this year, even if we cannot celebrate in person with our colleagues, we will still find goodwill and affection with the connections we have formed at work together,” she said.

(With inputs from Chitrali Ghatak)