9 tips to avoid an HR headache this Christmas party


As we approach the end of the year many companies will be celebrating the festivities with a Christmas party. ‘tis the season to be jolly after all. 

Christmas parties can be a great way to reward staff for all of their hard work throughout the year, encourage colleagues to get to know each other better and build loyalty at your company.

But sometimes the often alcohol-fuelled festivities can have disastrous results. In fact, it has been reported that 9 out of 10 employers have experienced an employment issue arising from a Christmas party, and 1 in 10 employees knows someone that has been disciplined or dismissed for an incident connected to the office festive celebration.

This highlights the importance of careful planning to make sure your party goes off with the right kind of bang.

Here we offer 9 tips so your business can enjoy a very merry Christmas party without an HR headache in the morning.

Communication is key

Pre-party planning is essential to the success of your celebration. Remind staff that the party is an extension of the office and they are to act in an appropriate way. This often includes enforcing a dress code so that everyone knows what is expected of them. Also, if the party will take place when employees will need to work the next day make sure people know beforehand if disciplinary action will be taken against those who fail to turn up.

Show sensitivity

At Christmas it’s important to remember that we live in a multi-cultural society and not all of your employees will want to join in the festive celebrations. For this reason it’s important to make attendance at Christmas parties optional so that staff that have faith or personal reasons as to why they don’t want to attend don’t feel pressured into doing something they don’t want to. You may also want to consider alternative party themes so that non-drinkers do not feel excluded from the fun.

Plan for inappropriate behaviour

Alcohol-fuelled punch-ups and threatening behaviour top the list of reasons for disciplinary action following the staff Christmas party, according to a poll by the CIPD. So make sure you take appropriate action to prevent this happening. Employers could consider having designated managers to keep an eye out for any potential trouble-makers. This can nip the problem in the bud and any employees that have had a bit too much can be sent home safely before they do something they may regret.

Social media

With the growing popularity of social media it is likely that employees will be tempted to share their office party antics with their friends online. But as an extension of your brand you may want to limit what they can and cannot share. This highlights the importance of having a social media policy in place and reminding employees of its existence.

Lead by example

Christmas is a great time to let your hair down and socialise with your staff but be careful not to do anything that you wouldn’t want your staff to do.  It’s important to lead by example and showcase the kind of behaviour that you expect from your staff. And this doesn’t stop at the end of the party. A survey by insurers Aviva found that senior managers are in fact 67% more likely to call in sick the day after a Christmas party than other members of staff.

Keep it clean

Party games can be a great way to encourage teambuilding at your event but make sure it is done in a tasteful manner. Similarly, with the growing popularity of present-giving through ‘Secret Santa’ it’s important to remind staff to keep it appropriate. And, although mistletoe may be festively appropriate, it’s not suited to a work affair.

Avoid conversations better suited to the office

With alcohol often a key ingredient at an office Christmas party it can be easy to get carried away and let the wine do the talking. But always avoid conversations that would be better suited to the office such as talks about salary or confidential information.

Get staff home safe

It’s important to make sure that you take precautions to ensure that your staff get home safely – and don’t drink drive. There are a number of ways you can do this including: organising the party to end before public transport finishes, providing transport or accommodation, or making sure everyone attending has the local taxi firm’s phone number.

Remember to have fun

Whilst it’s important to have guidelines in place it’s equally essential to make sure that your work party doesn’t become a boring affair that your staff will dread attending. With careful planning and effective execution you can have a great event that will bring your employees together and have them excited for the next one all the way through the next year.

What does your business have planned this Christmas? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @HiltonBairdFS


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