The annual office Christmas party is a fantastic opportunity to reward employees for their hard work and a chance for everyone to relax, unwind and enjoy one another’s company outside of the office environment.
But as you may have learnt from attending Christmas parties in the past, alcohol mixed with conflicting personalities, simmering tensions or just plain foolish behaviour can all lead to the office Christmas party being remembered for all the wrong reasons!
So here are our top tips:
It’s worth thinking carefully about the venue for your Christmas party. Is it accessible to all? including those with a disability? Can people get home easily? Choosing a venue that might encourage people to ‘drink and drive’ is clearly not advisable. So consider whether you have good public transport links or ready access to taxis. Also set a start and finish time for the party – this is not an all-nighter!!
When compiling the invitations be as inclusive as possible, no one should feel left out. Remember to make an effort to invite those who are currently away from work, whether because of maternity leave, sickness or any other reason. If employees are encouraged to invite their partners along, allow for the reality of unmarried couples and same-sex relationships.
Think how you can make the party appealing to all. Organising an event based solely around the consumption of large quantities of alcohol will no doubt please some of your employees, but it could well be a turn-off for others. In particular, be sensitive to the religious and other beliefs of your employees; make sure there are plenty of non-alcoholic drink options and any food on the menu contains a vegetarian option. Remember skimping on food costs will not work in your favour; an empty stomach needs something substantial to fill the void.
Remember to gently remind your employees that this is a work function and they need to understand the rules of the workplace, exist during the party. When a lot of alcohol has been consumed, people become less inhibited and more likely to say (or do) precisely what is on their mind. As a result, the risk of discrimination and harassment claims rears its ugly head. So make sure people understand that this is a work event and a level of professionalism is still required. Oh, and if you’re the boss, remember that alcohol and conversations about pay rises don’t mix!
The morning after
Make sure people understand whether they are required to be in work the day after the Christmas party. If they phone in sick, carefully consider whether it is genuine sickness or the result of over-indulgence. Then consider whether disciplinary action is required.
You don’t need a policy specifically to cover your Christmas party, but it is worth making sure you have a complaints process in place on the off-chance issues may arise during the party that need to be dealt with. Make sure you document all incidents, no matter how small, in case further issues arise at a later date.
Lastly; enjoy, let your hair down and have fun!
Finally, and before we begin to sound too much like the equivalent of ‘Scrooge’, the Christmas party is a chance to come together and celebrate a successful year, it’s also an opportunity to have fun. So having taken some sensible precautions, relax, unwind and enjoy yourself. You deserve it!
If you need any help or advice with any issues discussed above or updating any office policies or procedures why not get in touch with HR Revolution and make sure your office Christmas party passes without incident.