Nine in 10 have suffered employment issues post Xmas party – here’s how not to become one of them

The work Christmas do… what is it really all about?

Far be it our desire to play Scrooge, but employers so often cause themselves more harm than good, and importantly fail to gain from the boost the party gives to staff.
“Hang on… it’s only October! Why’re you covering this so soon?” you might be asking. Well, the competition to host your business’s Christmas bash is well underway, with companies advertising ever more crazy party ideas to grab your attention. We’ve already been offered a night to embrace ‘the darker side of Christmas’, promising to land some businesses in bother hotter than your mulled wine!
So, let’s consider your party. You mightn’t be an expert party planner, but you’ll have an idea of the sort of event your staff would like to have. It’s important that it’s relevant to your workforce. Just as with your other reward schemes and employee benefits, if they’re not what your employees want, your money is wasted.santa-naughty-list
Once you have an appropriate event in the diary, HR will become your best friend. What you’re doing will earn you plenty of brownie points with the staff. It’ll bring your team together (some of whom may never have spoken!), and will reinforce a positive working environment going into 2017. Expect the best to come from it, but we think it is sensible to prepare for the worst…
Nine out of 10 employers have suffered employment issues from a Christmas party. Drunken behaviour, use of banned substances, harassment, arguments – whether online or off. It’s all a far cry from Christmas spirit, and your company policies.
Even fights! It’d be a real shock if one were to kick off but if you were going to point to a date in your calendar when they’d be likely to happen, the booze fuelled Christmas party would be a prime candidate.
Fear the fracas? Stressed about scuffles? Good HR practices can help you to prevent them: having clear policies in place and ensuring staff understand that the event is an extension of the workplace.
As the news this week has shown though, tensions do boil over. When they do, we suggest you seek professional advice and support when launching your investigation.
Here are some useful HR tips to help you get the best out of your Christmas party:
  • Remind everyone about their behaviour – you aren’t a horrible boss for doing so, you’re just making sure you reinforce the rules.
  • Make sure everyone is included and invited. They can be great team building events and a good way to say thank you for staff efforts over the previous year.
  • Ensure under-18s aren’t drinking.
  • Be aware of religious sensitivities.
  • Drinking the bar dry shouldn’t be the stated objective of the evening.
  • If there is an issue, use common sense. Note down what’s happened and take appropriate action. Regardless of the situation, don’t sack someone on the spot!
  • Be mindful that Christmas can be a difficult time of year for many people.
  • No mistletoe, it just asks for trouble!
Most events go without a hitch, but if you really are worried about potential workplace incidents, don’t ban the party altogether. Why not host if after the New Year is in? You’ll still give your team a morale boost, plus most will be doing Dry January by then!
For HR advice and support in Edinburgh and the Lothians, contact The HR Dept 

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Ian heads up the HR Dept Edinburgh & the Lothians team. The HR Dept specialises in helping SMEs with everything to with employment, through a local and personal service delivering practical and pragmatic advice and support. With nearly 30 years HR experience, Ian has a wealth of experience in helping businesses to ensure success through their people, be legally compliant and handle tricky people issues. As a business owner himself, Ian understands the challenges that come with running and growing a business. He is known for his ability to explain complex concepts simply and to make learning fun and enjoyable.