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Business Observer Friday, Feb. 10, 2017 1 year ago

How to ... Plan the perfect company party

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Jessica Wells, vice president of corporate communications and public relations for Fort Myers-based retailer Chico's FAS Inc., says company parties are embedded in the company's culture and “provide camaraderie and a greater sense of community within the workplace.”
by: Alicia Ceccarelli Contributing Writer

Jessica Wells, vice president of corporate communications and public relations for Fort Myers-based retailer Chico's FAS Inc., says company parties are embedded in the company's culture and “provide camaraderie and a greater sense of community within the workplace.”

Some of Wells' tips for planning a top-notch company party include:

Identify the goal of the party, whether it's for a holiday event, team building, employee recognition or something else.

Consider the elements: number of attendants, style, atmosphere, catering and audio-visual needs.

Wells, in an email response to questions, says Chico's is “committed to a culture of inclusion and plan all events with this commitment in mind.” For instance, when selecting the menu, Wells ensures choices are well-rounded to accommodate a variety of diets. An example: a fruit option in addition to classic sweets.

Ask employees what they like and value, says Wells. That will assist in wiser spending. For example, a casual, yet festive hot cocoa bar at the Chico's holiday party expanded the budget for raffles and prizes. “Your budget should be contingent on the vision and experience you're trying to create for your employees,” says Wells;

Wells says a mistake is to plan and execute without help. Instead, “create a time and action plan to keep you organized throughout the planning stage,” she says;

Keep a small “slush” fund set aside for unforeseen costs, Wells suggests, because everything won't go as planned. “Realize and accept that something will go wrong,” she says. “Being flexible and proactive is important.”

Wells attributes Chico's success in creating memorable events to her team's belief in “mixing it up” with amusing contests, team challenges and bonding through philanthropy. “Charity tie-ins can be very impactful,” Wells says. “People love to give back.”

A key part to planning a great office party is not the event itself, but the attitude at the top. She cites an unforgettable Chico's moment when the company hired a Mariachi band to commemorate the CEO's anniversary. “When associates see their leaders having fun,” she says, “it sets the tone for the event.”

(This story was updated to reflect Wells' comments on menu selections.)

— Alicia Ceccarelli

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