he decorations, parties and a more relaxed atmosphere are the dominant notes, accompanied by the shopping spree that also characterises this period. But if some see the Christmas season as a time for personal reflection, others see it as a frivolous period where consumerism rules. Regardless of your individual attitude towards Christmas, this season can and should be more than just a festive season, including when it comes to management. Interestingly, and taking into account its relevance in the Western world, there is still relatively little research on the subject beyond its implications for consumption and marketing strategies.
A few years ago, Philip Hancock and Alf Rehn organized a special issue of Organization magazine precisely to address this less explored side of Christmas. These authors point out that Christmas can have a role for companies that goes far beyond the direct generation of economic value; it can bring companies closer to their customers, promote innovation and contribute to the increase of identification with the work. In other words, it is a good time to reflect on the company's vision, strategy and practices and the respective impact on internal and external stakeholders. Christmas in the company should therefore include a deeper reflection on "why we do what we do" and "what we can change for the better" in order to promote both the meaning of work and identification with the company, while helping to prepare and promote change.
If we look at its impact on the different stakeholders, we see that consistency over time plays a key role here. This is because actions such as holding a Christmas party or distributing small gifts may be seen either through a positive or negative lens: positive if it is "just" another demonstration that the company values and cares about its employees; negative if it is the only demonstration of the same principles, which often creates the feeling among employees that it is just a pro forma or an artefact for people to forget, even if for a short period of time, the day-to-day reality of the company.
What ends up being more important for the process of interpreting these actions is to ensure that your company does not transform itself into something completely different (and as a general rule much better) during Christmas, but rather that it takes the opportunity to highlight and reiterate those fundamental principles that govern it throughout the year, because, as the poet Ary dos Santos used to say: "Christmas [...] is when a man wants it".
Article originally published in Forbes Portugalmagazine