How to prevent the staff Christmas party turning into an HR nightmare

By KMC Human Resources

14 Dec 2017

The run up to Christmas can be an interesting time for HR professionals. With matters including staff holidays, the increased propensity for sickness absence, the staff Christmas party and how to appropriately and fairly reward staff, the arrival of Christmas Day can be a welcome relief for business owners and their HR teams!

Treating your staff to a night out in the run up to Christmas is a tradition that many companies like to maintain. The work’s Christmas ‘Do’ is a great way to show staff how much you appreciate their efforts and can go a long way to help team building and staff morale.  However, a combination of high spirits and alcohol can turn the staff Christmas party into a nightmare for employers.

When planning your Christmas party, you will need to temporarily put your Santa hat to one side and, instead, put on your ‘elf and safety’ hat.  You will want to provide an enjoyable time for your staff, and also enjoy the party yourself, but caution needs to be exercised, especially where alcohol is involved.

On the day of the staff Christmas party, you might consider sending a communication to your staff, reminding them of their responsibilities as an employee.  Without wanting to come across as Scrooge, you may wish to outline what is and is not considered acceptable behaviour and what consequences employees might face should they fall foul of expectations.  Ultimately, staff are still representing your company throughout the course of a work Christmas party, and it may not go amiss to advise them of this.

Employers can be found liable for the actions of their employees even in gatherings of staff outside of the workplace – so taking the precaution of having in place, reviewing and regularly reminding and training staff on such matters can go a long way to protecting your position should you face a claim.

The majority of employees are likely to take the Christmas party in the spirit it is meant and in most cases, unruly or unacceptable behaviour is the exception rather than the norm.  With careful planning and thought from business owners, the Christmas party can be an enjoyable and festive occasion for all involved. For more tips or advice in relation to your work’s Christmas party, or any other aspect of HR, please contact us.  KMC HR offer a free initial one hour consultation to any business client that is new to us.

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