It's almost December - time for the annual office party, right? But many companies have regretted holding the end-of-year bash without giving it some thought beforehand. Auguste Coetzer, the director of executive search at recruitment company Talent Africa, says there is evidence that a party can be good for staff morale. "A party can be cost-justified. There is mounting evidence happy employees work harder. They also produce happy customers, vital in a tough economy when customer retention is critical. "The impact of demoralisation must also be considered. The budget for social activities is often cut when business is tight. However, it can be a false economy if staff motivation and performance plummet." To ensure the party adds value rather than cause problems, Coetzer advises: • Choose your venue wisely. "Deeply held corporate values can hardly be communicated by selecting some dubious dive"; • Take pride in the organisation of the event, even if it's a braai on a patch of lawn; ...

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