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Christmas party or HR nightmare …

Christmas party or HR nightmare …


'Tis the season for joy, festivities, and the much-anticipated office Christmas party. However, as the holiday season approaches, so do the underlying anxieties that often accompany this annual workplace tradition.

Whilst the office Christmas party is a great way for colleagues to come together in a relaxed atmosphere, improve staff morale and say, ‘thank you’, it can also be a HR nightmare for employers and can come with its own unique set of challenges.  We’ve all heard stories of the office party filled with unwanted advances, inappropriate behaviour, ill-judged jokes and so on….

Whether you have been planning for months or are just putting together the final details we wanted to share a few helpful tips to ensure you don’t end up with a HR hangover!

Be inclusive

It is important to ensure that the Christmas party is open to all employees regardless of age, gender, religion, disability etc. Not everyone celebrates the Christmas season in the same way. For example, you may have employees within your team who have personal or religious traditions which differ. If this is the case, make sure you consider this when planning your celebrations and equally ensure they don’t feel pressured to attend if they don’t wish to. 

Also, don’t forget to invite those working from home or on maternity/paternity leave/long terms sick! 

Cater for everyone

Consider a venue/event that everyone can enjoy and won’t just appeal to a certain demographic of the workforce.  Ensure the location is accessible to all employees and helps everyone feel welcome and included.  Also don’t forget to offer non-alcoholic drinks and ensure you have catered for specific dietary requirements. 

Consider setting a limit on the free bar

Most incidents that occur at Christmas parties are alcohol induced, therefore setting a limit can help avoid excessive consumption.  Encourage line managers to set a good example and encourage anyone taking the festivities a bit far to take it easy. 

Appropriate conduct and behaviour

The key point to remember here is that the Christmas party is an extension of the workplace and as such, employers can still be liable for the behaviour of their employees (such as harassment, discrimination, or assault etc).  It would therefore be advisable to remind employees of the acceptable standards of behaviour expected and that inappropriate actions may lead to a disciplinary. 

Social media

Whilst social media can be a great way to share photos and show that your organisation is a great place to work, it is also important to have some control over what is shared.  Inappropriate and uncomplimentary photos can be damaging to the company and its reputation as well as give rise to potential grievances from employees who did not want their embarrassing photos shared online.  The worry of being ‘tagged’ in unprofessional poses or insensitive photos can make employees more cautious about relaxing and enjoying the festivities. So, ensure your social media policy is up to date and protects both the business and its employees. Give KeystoneHR a call to discuss updating your policies and procedures.

Take action!

In the unfortunate event that someone does overindulge on the mulled wine and oversteps the mark, make sure you deal with any incidents as you would with any office dispute.  Failure to act could result in a claim further down the line.  Remember to give KeystoneHR a call for assistance if you find yourself in this situation.

The morning after the night before…

Hopefully, everyone had a great night, and it was incident free. However, the following morning often results in unexpected absences particularly if your festive celebrations are being held mid-week.  A timely reminder that unless already agreed, it is ‘business as usual’, which should discourage people from taking unjustified sick leave or suddenly announcing they are working from home. 


And finally…

We hope that you and your team have a wonderful time celebrating the festive season. If you would like to have a chat about any of the above, please do get in touch with KeystoneHR.

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