Getting into the Spirit – Christmas Party Advice for Employers

Posted in : HR Updates ROI on 22 October 2019
Caroline McEnery
The HR Suite

The Company Christmas Party presents an ideal opportunity for employees to socialise and enjoy the Christmas season together. Morale can often get a lift at such events, as can team unity. Creating personal connections outside of the work environment can help improve the general atmosphere and the attitudes displayed in the workplace. The staff party is also an opportunity for management to show recognition for the work well done by the company and its staff. This may increase motivation amongst the workforce and may help improve the quality of work going forward.

However, at times the planning that is required to ensure that the event is successful and managed responsibly is not given adequate time or thought.  People are busy at this time of year and companies fall into the routine of booking the same venue as previous years without giving the event much thought.

We think that this can be one of your most important events of the year in relation to staff engagement and motivation and in order to make sure that you have a safe and well received party we would recommend some careful preparation. 

Here are our top things that you should consider putting in place during your planning phase:

How to prepare for the staff Christmas party:

  • Planning - With regard to planning the event, we would advise getting input from the staff on what they would like to do – a quick employee survey can allow staff to give their input and ensure that you are using your investment in the correct way.
  • Safety - It is important to remember that employers can be held liable for incidents that happen at Christmas parties, even if the party is offsite and out of hours. Once the arrangements for the Company Christmas Party have been organised, take the opportunity (perhaps in your email communication about the event) to remind staff that this is a company event and for everyone’s enjoyment to be mindful that all company policies and procedures apply especially in relation to conduct on the night.
  • Dignity/Harassment - Review the “Dignity at Work” policy and ensure that it clearly states the employer will not tolerate bullying, harassment or sexual harassment. The policy should state that it includes work-related social events.
  • Logistics – Ensure that the venue is suitable for disabled employees, has an option for all special dietary requirements and suitable transportation is arranged if necessary.
  • Alcohol -Staff should ideally be reminded that alcohol must be consumed responsibly at Company Parties.
  • Social Media - You may also consider reminding staff that if they are engaging in social media tools that they should respect their colleagues and managements privacy. It may be useful to reissue the Company Social Media Policy and to inform all in attendance that they are not permitted to post images of others without their consent. It may also be advisable to request that no videos are posted. 
  • Transport - As an employer, remember that you have a duty of care towards your staff and therefore have a responsibility to ensure that they get home safely. Encourage employees to either pre-book taxis or to research late night public transport options.
  • Employee inclusion - Keep in mind that Christmas is a Christian celebration and is not observed by every religion. Although some employees may not celebrate Christmas, these employees should not be discriminated against and should be given the choice to attend the Company Party. Ensure that all your workforce are included and consider referring to the party as an “End of Year” party if you think the word Christmas in non-inclusive. If an employee does not want to attend the Company Christmas Party, due to personal or religious beliefs, this choice should be respected by the employer.
  • Brief the Management team- Advise Management not to discuss issues relating to salaries, performance, career prospects or serious HR issues at the event, especially if alcohol has been taken.

A good option to ensure that you communicate all relevant points to employees is to send an email in advance setting out clear written guidance. It is important to keep the tone light as this is a positive announcement and to advise that you are including important safety notices to ensure all employees enjoy the event.  This should indicate:

  • that employees should consume alcohol responsibly and remember to show due consideration to their fellow employees and members of the public;
  • that under no circumstances are they to drink and drive for their own and others safety;
  • that drunken and /or disorderly behaviour, illegal drug taking, verbal or physical abuse, harassment of a sexual or discriminatory nature will not be tolerated and any such behaviour is likely to result in disciplinary action up to and including dismissal;
  • that they are at all times expected to observe the policies put in place by their employer highlighting, in particular, the Dignity at Work, Bullying and Harassment, Disciplinary and Grievance, Absence and Social Media policies in place;
  • that these guidelines cover not just the Christmas party but the after party and the after-after party too!   

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Free Webinar

Legal Island, in association with the HR Suite will be discussing the key issues arising for employers to ensure that the Christmas party is not eventful for the wrong reasons at a Webinar, Tis the season to be... Cautious?, on Monday 2nd December (2-2.45pm).   Email your questions in advance of the Webinar to Rolanda@legal-island.com

Register here

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Session Title: What a Good Investigation Report Looks Like

Top trainer, expert investigator, mediator, WRC Adjudication Officer and MD of the HR Suite, Caroline McEnery, sets out how to write a good, robust investigation report and set out findings.

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Find out more about the Annual Review of Employment Law 2019 conference, including the full programme, speaker list and how to book your place here:

This article is correct at 22/10/2019
Disclaimer:

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Caroline McEnery
The HR Suite

The main content of this article was provided by Caroline McEnery. Contact telephone number is +353 66 710 2887 / +353 86 775 2064 or email info@thehrsuite.com

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