Christmas Parties – will it be an HR nightmare? How to avoid the headache.

Christmas Parties – will it be an HR nightmare?

Need some help on how to avoid the headache? Here’s how…

Christmas is just around the corner, and the work Christmas parties are already knocking on our door. For the HR professional sadly it often spells a period of extra investigations and disciplinaries in the fall out after the event.

As an employer, we’re sure you think your team deserves to let their hair down and of course, every company is different but you should remember that you do have a duty of care to your employees and so the following blog aims to give you some advice when throwing a Christmas party.

Set clear boundaries

Before any Christmas event, make sure you gently remind your team what is expected from them when it comes to their behaviour . You don’t want to dampen high spirits during the festive period; however, it is important that you set the boundaries early so that everyone understands the companies’ guidelines and has ample opportunity to raise any questions or concerns. It will mean that there’s less chance of having to deal with the consequences after the event.

Also be mindful that even if you elect not to hold an officially organised event yet your staff arrange a get together themselves, as an employer you may still be liable for your staff’s actions at that event. Why? Because these events might be regarded as closely connected to employment and so the employer becomes vicariously liable.

Remind your employees of your HR policies, not only relating to harassment, discrimination, code of conduct, and behaviour at work related social events.

Reiterate that these policies still apply at any company event, social or otherwise, that they are in place to protect the workforce and ensure that everyone has an enjoyable time.

Social Media

This might be a great time to review your social media policies, or if recently done make sure everyone is aware of their contents. You really don’t want any inappropriate pictures of your employees or management ending up on social media sites for all to see. This could give rise to grievance complaints and harassment claims.

What not to talk about

Just as we wouldn’t like our employees asking for a pay rise at the party, nor should management discuss any employee performance or pay issues at events outside of work. This is inappropriate.  There is a time and a place. Likewise that is not the time to tell someone what you really think of them – as has happened to me at a Christmas party before!

Sickness after the event 

Consider who may have to go to work after the event. Should they book a day off instead? IT might be good to remind them of that options if it is available.  If your employees have to work the day after the party, they should be reminded of required start times and work expectations. If they fail to meet these then action needs to be taken, but remember that people might be genuinely sick at this time of year anyway.

Bah humbug 

I know this can seem over the top and against spirit of the holiday season but you can’t say we didn’t warn you.

For additional support and information on planning a Christmas party, seek an independent HR advisor for guidance.