HR Grinch (Advice for Company Christmas Party)Natalie Lewis
‘Twas a few weeks before Christmas and the company party was being discussed…. Everyone was excited until HR made a fuss!
The Company Christmas Party – always a subject of contention! Whilst many would agree that a Company Christmas Party can boost morale and be a good way to celebrate success, it can also bring managers and HR many headaches (not just ones from overindulging!)
So without wanting to be a Christmas Grinch, let’s look at some ways to make your life easier and minimise any risk to your business…
When planning the Company Christmas Party, take into account the needs of every employee by making sure the venue is accessible to all, it supplies non-alcoholic drinks and can cater for food to suit different dietary and religious requirements. Make sure that you don’t treat those who don’t wish to attend any differently to those who do and always make sure you’ve invited everyone, including those on maternity/paternity leave.
Setting the ground rules before the Christmas Party will help prevent problems later on.
Communicate Company expectations early on, most businesses email around a set of ground rules or ‘company party etiquette’ as well as having the supporting policies in place (disciplinary and grievance). I’ve listed some ideas of what to cover below.
Now, you could just chance it and not email your employees but if anything happens then you and I are going to be busy in the New Year potentially firefighting any issues that arise.
Things you can cover:
Company rules apply when on a Christmas event, no matter where or what time of the day (or early hours of the morning!) The usual Company behaviours and conduct expectations still apply and inappropriate behaviour is still a disciplinary offence
No excessive drinking! The company party is not an excuse for overindulging (that’s usually when people step over the line).
No drink driving, get a taxi or arrange suitable transport home. (If you as a company can budget for transport home, this would be a great idea! Also be mindful that staff may be over the drink drive limit the morning after the night before).
The use of any controlled drug is not only illegal but also a disciplinary offence. Carrying/ selling/ taking drugs is considered gross misconduct and may result in summary dismissal.
Managers – avoid having discussions re: performance, career progression, bonuses etc. Remember that any promise made verbally could be regarded as a verbal contract!
The day after a Christmas Party is a normal working day (unless you’ve been sensible and booked it on a Friday)! Company expectations regarding attendance, lateness and hangovers still apply!
Social Media – whilst it’s good to encourage staff to have fun, be sure that they are clear about the social media policy and the thin line between what might be considered public and private. Anything posted about the Christmas party is effectively Company posting. That means that posts must not be libellous or defamatory, contain bullying or harassing content. In essence, posts should not damage Company reputation or expose it to legal risks.
A quick message about Secret Santa, make sure to ask everyone to be sensible with their gifts, not like a company I dealt with a few years ago who’s finance manager gave the office junior an adult toy as a gift ….! That little ‘joke’ cost the company a significant amount of money in a compromise agreement!!
If you need help writing your company christmas party etiquette, contact me for help. I can’t promise it’ll rhyme though!