Avoiding the pitfalls of the annual Christmas party

Navigating the Festive Maze
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Navigating the Festive Maze: A Practical Guide to a Successful and Inclusive Office Christmas Party in 2023.

We say it every year because we see it every year. The fallout from the Christmas party can lead to a busy time for HR professionals. To ensure a smoother experience this year, here is our 2023 guide on how your workplace can sidestep the pitfalls of the annual Christmas party, allowing the HR team a well-deserved Christmas break.

While seasonal parties provide an excellent opportunity for team building and socialising outside the normal working routine, a relaxed atmosphere can occasionally lead to problems. What appears as harmless fun in the moment might take on a different tone the morning after, potentially resulting in friction among colleagues or, in more extreme cases, requiring formal HR intervention.

In our digital age, where images or videos on social media can circulate rapidly, it is important to consider that the consequences of unchecked behaviour can extend beyond the party venue. Sharing of images and comments via social media, with its wide-reaching impact, could have the potential to damage the reputation of your organisation, depending on the nature of the shared content and whether employees comply with social media policies in place. This poses a real risk of reputational damage.

Recent cases of fighting, unwanted attention, comments, or even sexual harassment highlight the potential severity of incidents at work parties. Businesses may be held responsible for the actions of their employees at work parties, even if the event occurs outside regular working hours. So, what can you take to minimise risks?

To mitigate risks and to enable you and your employees to focus on enjoying the festivities, we recommend that you:

  1. Establish and communicate clear ground rules on acceptable behaviour, ensuring that all employees are aware of the guidelines from the outset. It may lead to a couple of grumbles and mutterings of ‘killjoy’ but it is worth saying.
  2. Ensure that managers are aware of expectations around behaviour and set a good example. Do not encourage excessive alcohol consumption – it can often be at the root of poor behaviour.
  3. Promote inclusivity in events. Think about the timing and location, whether all employees will want to drink or stay out late, and how to include colleagues from a variety of religions.

Ultimately, the goal is not to dampen the spirits of employees but to navigate potential issues more smoothly. Taking these precautions seriously will be appreciated in the long run.

For more information – please contact Caitlin Anniss in our team at canniss@narrowquayhr.co.uk or 07909 683 938