01271 859 267
Christmas Party

The Christmas Party: Five ways Employers can keep things jolly

Overindulgence is part of the festive season. That extra mince pie at the market, the glass of red on a cosy dark night in, the endless sweet treats not to mention the mammoth feast on Christmas day itself! It is very easy to get carried away with it all. Yet there is one place where moderation is key – the office Christmas party.

Here we outline some key pointers for managers surrounding the annual Christmas party and wider festive period, to ensure a happy, healthy and productive workforce all season long!

Communicate a notice of conduct

A staff Christmas party is a celebration of a year of hard work and successes of the company. However, a boozy event is not an excuse to treat the social like a wild weekend on the town. All staff should remember that their conduct and behaviour towards fellow colleagues should remain unchanged from the workplace (More jovial conversation, less dancing on the tables). Nobody wants to face their boss on Monday morning with flashbacks of drinking shots and squealing along to Mariah on karaoke.

And it’s not just about drunken behaviour. Employers are liable under the Equality Act 2010 for any harassment or discrimination that employees might suffer as a result from – or occur during – their time employed with the organisation. Including the Christmas party. Although all employers hope their staff will never endure such experiences, circulating a conduct notice could act as evidence of reasonable steps to prevent the offending act should something occur.

It’s not just who you see every day…

Don’t forget to invite employees who are on maternity or paternity leave, or who are on long-term sick leave. If they can’t attend they will appreciate the inclusivity, if they can it will be a lovely way to catch up with those rarely seen friends.

A celebration for all?

Some staff parties take place in the boardroom with bottles of fizz, some nibbles and a Now That’s What I Call Christmas CD blasting over the sea of paper party hats. Others are altogether more regal affairs complete with dress codes and lavish silver service meals. However it’s celebrated, consider the following:

  • For any under 18 employees – will they be allowed in the venue?
  • For an activity-based event – can all employees physically join in?
  • For any food service – have all staff dietary requirements been catered to?

The morning after…

Christmas parties rarely take place on a Friday so it would be – at best – dubious for staff to call in sick with a mysterious lurgy the following morning (Everybody saw John from Accounts stumble into a taxi after midnight). The key to managing this well is to make your expectations clear ahead of time.

For example, unless stated otherwise, the day after the office party is business as usual. Nobody wants to be cast as The Grinch, but unexpected absences are just as damaging to a business in December as they are the rest of the year. Failing to pull up staff on such events could trigger a culture of absenteeism post-party in future.

On a cultural level, colleagues rarely appreciate having to pick up ill colleagues’ workloads, less so when they carried themselves to bed at a respectable hour the night before in preparation for a productive morning. This can have a negative effect on morale for those who do turn up, making the working day long and downbeat – which is the last thing on most people’s Christmas list! By communicating your expectations to your team, they will know where they stand and be able to prepare themselves accordingly.

If employees are hourly paid, they can expect to be deducted for any lateness or absence following a staff party. Some organisations have disciplinary processes in place for staff who fail to make an appearance at work after the party. If this is something you are considering, it should be part of your HR policy well in advance and shared with staff in accordance with the correct procedure.

If employees really can’t face the day following a festive knees up, you could suggest that they go through the usual HR channels to pre-authorise holidays in advance. And speaking of holidays….

Working 9-5… or thereabouts at Christmas?

There is a common misconception that employers are required to give employees time off over Christmas. This is simply not true. There are a myriad ways that organisations function over Christmas to suit their individual business needs (and there is no right or wrong way!):

Some close completely and ‘gift’ staff additional holidays over a set period
Some require staff to use their existing holidays
Some operate a skeleton staff or reduce staff’s working weeks to allow them more time off
Some, of course, require staff to work as usual because their business can’t wait for Santa!

Travel disruptions are generally not considered a valid reason to take unauthorised time off work at Christmastime. If arrangements cannot be made to get into work, or to work from home, then employers reserve the right to inform employees that holidays must be used. The key to a happy team is good communication, if you’re clear about your expectations and, if necessary, make sure staff understand how to arrange time off around Christmas in advance then your festive period will be a success.

We hope you found this article useful. If you have any questions regarding your HR operation around Christmas, please contact us… and enjoy your Christmas party!

Read More: Misconduct at the Christmas Party