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Tet Holiday and Its Impact on Managing an Outsourced Team

guide to managing architectural outsourcing team during vietnam tet holiday

The Lunar New Year festival, also known as Tet holiday, holds significant cultural and spiritual importance in Vietnam. This revered celebration has been cherished since ancient times, symbolising the transition between years and bearing deep-rooted values and beliefs that are intrinsic to Vietnamese culture. With the arrival of this festive season, there are significant implications for businesses too. It is essential for those who participate in outsourcing in Vietnam to thoroughly understand the cultural significance of Tet holiday and how it impacts the operations of Vietnamese businesses.


Tet Holiday: An Overview

Tet holiday, or the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, is a highly significant and widely cherished festival in Vietnam. It encompasses a range of cultural traditions and customs that hold deep roots. This joyful event signifies the start of the lunar calendar and typically occurs in late January or early February. Families engage in extensive preparations, including cleaning their homes and adorning them with colourful flowers, particularly the iconic peach and apricot blossoms. Tet is a special period for family gatherings, during which traditional meals such as banh chung (square sticky rice cake) and gio lua (Vietnamese pork sausage) play a central role.


How long is Tet holiday in Vietnam?

The Tet holiday in Vietnam typically lasts for about a week, although the exact duration can vary. The celebration usually spans several days, including the day before Tet, the day of Tet itself, and a few days after. The specific dates of Tet vary each year as it is based on the lunar calendar, but it generally falls in late January or early February in the Gregorian calendar.

Read more: A Business Guide to Celebrating Tet 2024

Tet is a cultural anchor in Vietnamese society that reinforces shared values, including family unity, respect for ancestors, cultural identity, generosity, optimism, and a strong work ethic. These traditions contribute significantly to the social fabric of Vietnamese society, promoting a sense of community and shared heritage. Below is a compilation of traditional activities observed during Tet and their cultural significance:


Tet Celebrations in Vietnamese Offices

Tet celebrations in Vietnamese workplaces are marked by a lively combination of festive spirit and observance of cultural customs. As the Lunar New Year approaches, offices undergo a decorative makeover, featuring intricate adornments in red and gold, symbolising prosperity and good fortune. The atmosphere becomes energised as colleagues unite to share in the delight of the season.

away digital office decoration during tet holiday


Businesses also prioritise the observance of traditional customs during Tet, where employees participate in rituals like exchanging good wishes and lucky money. Additionally, some businesses implement a distinctive work arrangement by closing for an extended period to enable employees to fully engage in family celebrations and festivities. This temporary break underscores the profound cultural significance associated with Tet, fostering a collective feeling of unity and revitalisation as colleagues rejoin the workplace after the holiday, invigorated and prepared for the new year’s upcoming projects.


Employee Perceptions of Tet holiday in the workplace

During this festive season, our Vietnamese staff often exchange Tet greetings, share celebratory meals, and join in collective festivities. This communal atmosphere plays a crucial role in shaping a positive work environment, promoting teamwork, and encouraging collaboration.

The Tet holiday also highlights the significance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Many businesses close their doors during Tet, allowing employees to take a break and spend quality time with their families. This practice reflects a shared recognition of the importance of personal and familial connections outside of the professional sphere.

Despite being optional, employees in Vietnam greatly appreciate Tet bonuses. Vietnamese companies view these bonuses as a way to express appreciation and acknowledge their potential to significantly influence employee motivation and productivity. Although these Bonuses show appreciation, many companies actively foster a positive company culture, offer opportunities for career advancement, and enhance employee engagement to cultivate lasting loyalty and maximise productivity. A study by Harvard Business School concluded that employees are motivated by four fundamental drives in the workplace:

  • The drive to achieve financial stability, obtain material possessions, and seek recognition or social status.

  • The drive to establish and foster connections, forming meaningful relationships with colleagues.

  • The drive to gain knowledge, satisfy curiosity, and continuously grow and learn professionally.

  • The drive to safeguard oneself and others from potential threats, while advocating for fairness and justice.


the four basic drives of employee motivation

The Four Basic Drives of Employee Motivation


We recognise the importance of providing Tet bonuses to our employees annually. However, we also place a significant emphasis on fostering a strong company culture, offering opportunities for career advancement, and actively engaging our employees.

Besides that, the positive outlook and renewal associated with Tet resonate in the workplace. Colleagues may set new goals, engage in team-building activities, and collectively look forward to a successful and productive year ahead, aligning their professional aspirations with the spirit of Tet.


How do the cultural implications of Tet holiday impact business outsourcing in Vietnam?

The Tet holiday presents businesses with a valuable opportunity to retrospectively assess their outsourcing strategies in Vietnam, particularly considering the significant role of culture in managing outsourced teams. Vietnamese culture, characterised by a strong sense of collectivism, places great emphasis on family, community, and social harmony, and great importance on interdependence, and cooperation. The Tet holiday, in particular, encapsulates and magnifies this collectivist spirit.

Tet celebrations typically last a week or longer, which may result in reduced working hours and more absences as your team member may prioritise family gatherings and traditional customs. It is essential for remote team managers to be aware of these cultural dynamics to ensure effective communication and maintain team unity. Strategies such as clearly communicating expectations, offering flexible work schedules, and planning ahead become critical in navigating the potential disruptions that Tet may cause to the regular work routine.

effective communication is crucial during tet holiday

Effectively communicating expectations, providing the option for flexible work schedules, and proactively planning are essential in maintaining productivity and efficiency in the workplace


Away Digital’s Approach To Manage an Outsourced Team During Tet Holiday

At Away Digital, we recognise Tet celebrations as a significant opportunity to foster team unity and cultivate a positive work atmosphere. We recommend both our staff and clients to prioritise team spirit by organising virtual festivities, team-building activities, and promoting a culture of goodwill. We have observed that incorporating the essence of Tet into team interactions helps forge stronger connections among team members and showcases cultural understanding. Below are some of our recommended strategies for effectively managing outsourced teams during Tet:


Flexible work schedules

We implemented flexible work schedules to accommodate the extended Tet holiday period in Vietnam. This approach ensured that employees could balance work commitments with family celebrations, thereby fostering a positive work-life balance.


Tet as a Team-building Activity

At Away Digital, we believe that Tet celebrations are more than just events; they are valuable opportunities for strategic team-building. Like many organisations, we understand the importance of creating a sense of community and belonging. Therefore, Tet celebrations are integrated into our team-building activities, encouraging employees to engage in cross-department interactions and fostering a collaborative spirit. We embrace the essence of Tet, not just limited to the celebration day itself, but also integrating elements like renewal and gratitude into our everyday operations. We find that this ongoing initiative fosters an inclusive environment that recognises the importance of cultural diversity in shaping our organisational identity.

Our dedicated team in Vietnam always diligently organise parties for our Vietnamese staff. Our goal is to foster engagement and strengthen our team despite geographical barriers. These initiatives involve informative group discussions and joyful celebrations, fostering a strong sense of camaraderie among our team members.


Proactive Communication

As we acknowledge the extended leave necessary during the Tet holiday, we have consistently ensured effective management of our remote team by establishing clear expectations and deadlines well ahead of the Tet season. This proactive approach has successfully handled workflow disruptions, enabling the team to handle the holiday period seamlessly.


Financial Bonuses and Gifts

Although it is not obligatory, our team in Vietnam does offer “li xi” or lucky money during Tet. Businesses may want to consider providing financial bonuses or symbolic gifts to employees. This gesture not only respects cultural practices but also promotes a positive and appreciative work environment.


Temporary Staffing Support

Depending on the nature of the business, we collaborated with our clients to explore temporary staffing solutions to ensure essential functions are maintained during the Tet holiday. Such measures assist in workload management and maintaining smooth operations.


Not sure how to greet your Vietnamese staff during Tet?

Here are some of the most common Tet greetings that you can use to wish your Vietnamese staff a happy new year:

  • Chuc Mung Nam Moi: Happy New Year
  • An Khanh Thinh Vuong: We wish you prosperity
  • Phat Tai Phat Loc: We wish you wealth
  • Van Su Nhu Y: May all your wishes come true
  • Binh An Tan Loc: We wish you peace and prosperity
  • Tan Nien Dai Cat: We wish you a new year with lots of luck


Tet Celebration as a way to improve employee satisfaction and engagement

Managing remote teams during the festive season, such as Tet, undoubtedly requires a delicate balance between recognising the cultural importance of the celebration and meeting work obligations. Our aim is to leverage this occasion to enhance employee satisfaction and engagement, ultimately leading to a harmonious and productive workplace. This, in turn, positively impacts client relationships and contributes to long-term project success and sustainability.

As an experienced provider of outsourcing services, we have effectively implemented strategies to enhance our operations. These strategies include offering flexible work schedules and organising virtual and on-shore team-building activities. Additionally, we prioritise respecting local customs, thorough planning, providing time off, and recognising employees with financial bonuses. By implementing these recommendations, we have not only overcome the challenges associated with Tet, but also nurtured strong and culturally sensitive relationships within our remote teams.

As we enter the Year of the Dragon, may it bring you success, fulfilment, and robust determination. Chuc Mung Nam Moi!

Kindly be informed that the Away Digital Vietnam office is scheduled to be closed starting from the CoB on Thursday, February 8th, 2024, until Wednesday, February 14th, 2024. Normal operations will resume on Thursday, February 15th, 2024. Should you require further details, please reach out to us via email at info@awaydigital.com.


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