Watch out! Christmas party etiquette

Christmas can be a stressful time of year. And for emoployers, the potential for things to go wrong has resulted in some large organisations being forced to create an official policy around Secret Santa gifts!

A survey of 650 firms found that 5% cent have a policy in place to guide employees in their giving of Secret Santa gifts, knowing that the employer could be held liable if an employee received a gift that they regarded as offensive. If you feel a “policy” is too extreme, then why not come up with a suggested list of inappropriate items – or better still, guide staff to a particular theme of gift to avoid those embarrassing moments!

Christmas parties are an important highlight of the end of the working year and provide everyone with the chance to unwind with colleagues over a couple of drinks and dancing. However, we need to be mindful of guidance relating to alcohol at these events. Mental health charity Mind says one in three employees would rather take part in a non-alcoholic Christmas activity than head to the pub. More than a quarter said they would like to spend time with colleagues but wish it didn’t revolve around drinking, particular at this time of year. The introduction of alcohol “tokens” or limited provision of wine and beer at the table will allow the business to say thank you with a drink, without running the risk of some staff taking advantage and alcohol leading to problems later in the evening.

The other issue for employers is the “morning after the night before”. Think in advance if it is possible to allow staff to come in late the day after the office party. Most customers understand if one day in the year the premises open later because staff have been rewarded the night before. But whatever you decide it is important to make it clear where the business stands on lateness and absenteeism. Make it clear BEFORE the party what will be tolerated, to avoid any awkward conversations after the party!

Sharing those photos on social media may also cause difficulties – check the Social Media policy and if necessary remind staff that nothing inappropriate should be shared and that staff should not be “tagged” without their permission.

Ultimately, Christmas party or not – this is still regarded as “work-place” and staff need to understand that actions may have consequences – but that the over-riding goal is that everyone has fun and is rewarded for their hard work during the year!

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