I have not been to a holiday office party since I left the safety of a big company in order to start my own business in 1999. But I still have fond memories of how big of a deal the holiday office party was back “in the old days.”
All the women would buy a special “outfit” for the occasion. Even the men would wear a “nicer” suit to the event than the suit they would wear to work every day.
The holiday office party has always been intended to reward the office staff for their hard work and dedication all year long. Companies for many years went out of their way then to spend money on this annual employee appreciation event.
In today’s economy, I have heard that the extravagance and expense of the holiday office party are a thing of the past. At some companies, this seasonal event is just another casualty of the prolonged slowdown in the U.S. economy.
Today, many of the remaining holiday office parties are scaled-down casual affairs. Many holiday office parties are now held at work, for employees only, on a Friday afternoon in December.
Regardless of the style, location or theme of your holiday office party this 2011 holiday season, I would advise you to treat your holiday office party as another business event.
Any kind of business event presents a great opportunity for you to meet the most important leaders and executives at your company that you would never get a chance to talk to during the normal course of work.
This holiday office party, spend more time talking to the leaders of your company (and their spouses) than talking to the co-workers that you interact with most every business day.
Don’t ignore your co-workers; just spend more time “getting to know” the people at your company that are in a position to answer your most important questions about the inner workings of your company. How the company 401(k) retirement plan works at your company should be at the top of your conversation list this year.
Second only to your paycheck, the company 401(k) retirement plan is the biggest financial exposure that you have with your company. Your individual company 401(k) account is probably the largest single investment account that you own.
I think it is a great idea to include in your “small talk” with company leaders some serious and straightforward questions about the company 401(k) retirement plan offering. These questions, in the casual environment of a holiday office party, will accomplish two very important things.
First, serious questions to the people in authority at your company will show them that you really care about your job and the employee benefits that your company provides you. I would guess that not many of your fellow employees have asked serious questions about your company retirement plan to any leader in your company.
Do you think that by asking those questions, you might stand out a little bit to the company leader? In my experience, you would surely rise to a new level of competence in the mind of any company executive by asking a question about the company 401(k) plan benefit.
Second, any serious question or comment about the company retirement plan offering is always the kind of feedback that company executives look for. Questionnaires, surveys and polls are all secondary to an in-person question or comment from a company employee regarding the company retirement plan.
The company employee who asks questions and provides feedback to a company executive about the company retirement plan will stand out by a mile in their opinion.
Asking these leaders of your company questions about how to better navigate your company 401(k) retirement plan menu is a great way to show them that your company retirement plan account is an important investment opportunity for you and your family.