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The Christmas Party – How to Keep it Professional

4th Aug 2017
Employee Engagement, Human Resources

Whilst you may be thinking about staff scheduling to cover the peak summer holiday period, or dreaming of your own week away on the beach, August is the busiest month for the hospitality industry in relation to Christmas bookings. If you haven’t confirmed your Christmas celebration by August Bank Holiday weekend you may miss out on the location or date that you want. Ridiculous when we are (hopefully) enjoying the summer sun but true.

Everyone has a tale to tell about a Christmas party and an embarrassing antic a “friend” got up to. It can feel like a minefield for an employer who needs to decide how to celebrate Christmas with their team.

So why have a Christmas celebration?
Christmas, regardless of religion or belief, is a traditional time to meet up with friends and family and reflect on the year to celebrate successes, and the same is true for the workplace. It presents a great opportunity to thank your team for all their effort and hard work, acknowledges achievements and looks forward to the next twelve months.

What should an employer consider when deciding how to celebrate?
Firstly not everyone celebrates Christmas, maybe due to religion or other influencing factors, so being considerate of employee’s preferences can ensure the celebration is inclusive. There seems to be an unlimited number of options on how to celebrate Christmas – a meal, an entertainer, a themed party, shared party, Go-Karting, fancy dress, or drinks in the office after work.

Before you decide how you are going to celebrate think about the following factors:

  • Alcohol – do you want alcohol to be involved at all? Some may have the view it’s not a party without it, whilst others may blame alcohol for unsuitable behaviour with, and in front, of colleagues.
  • Dietary Needs – if food is involved, be aware of employee’s dietary needs so everyone can join in
  • Timing – if you have a large percentage of young parents, they may need to get home after work and get the kids to bed before going out again. Other employees may prefer to go out straight from work.
  • Accessibility – if booking an outside venue, be aware of accessibility. Not only for employees who may have disability needs but also think about parking, and whether employees’ will feel safe getting to and from the venue.
  • Work Needs – if you need your team to be at work by 8 am, celebrating on a work evening may not be suitable, or if a shift doesn’t end until 7 pm, be aware of the start time to allow all to attend.
  • Interests – be aware of your employees demographic and what their interests and skills are before arranging a celebration which may involve a specific activity or theme

Ground rules – are they needed?
Employees need to understand that they are representing the organisation despite it perhaps being out of working hours. Getting the balance between having fun and being relaxed, but being aware of appropriate behaviour can sometimes be challenging – especially if alcohol is involved.

A quick reminder that if the celebration is taking place in a public venue that they need to be aware that they are still representing the company, despite it being a social venue, is worth a mention.

Reminding employees that normal workplace policies apply will make it easier should something get a bit out of hand, and needs to be picked up on the return to work.

A big consideration is your social media policy – having an agreement as to whether photos will be taken, and posted on social media, may be worth discussing prior to the event to ensure everyone feels comfortable and indeed not embarrassed on return to work.

Be clear on the expectation of attendance at work the next day if you celebrate on a weeknight. Make it clear that if people are going to struggle to get to work on time (maybe due to a pounding head!) they should book annual leave, and ensure that all your line managers are fully briefed and trained on how to deal with absences.

If everyone remains respectful to each other, your party should go with a swing!

Whatever you decide to do, time is running out according to the hospitality and entertainment industry.

Our Online HR Toolkit has all the templates, policies and procedures that you need including a Social Media Policy and Absence Management Policy.

Here at MAD-HR we provide a variety of ad-hoc HR services, along with HR strategic development and are always happy to have a chat and see how we can help support your business growth. Give us a call on 01473 360160 to find out more.

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