You’ve had a busy year at your workplace and it is nearly Christmas – you have laid on a Christmas party for your employees, one of those ones where you attend a dinner and dance, there are other businesses there too. You are feeling pretty pleased with yourself, treating your staff and their partners to a 3-course meal and a tab at the bar.
You’ve been having a stressful time lately, so many problems in production, some staff issues and constant cashflow worries, tonight you really want to chill out and relax, and you deserve it, well done you.

But Oh No…

It looks like Mike has already drunk too much and you just heard him order another triple brandy at the bar. Susan and Anna have just had a blazing argument, and Susan has walked out.
You decide to turn a blind eye, let’s face it they need to let their hair down too, and it’s they are not at work now.
You decide to go to the dance floor and have a boogie with some of the team, it’s always fun seeing people outside of work, the ladies all dressed up, hair and makeup different to usual, the men who after a few beers are using their new found drunken confidence, taking the opportunity to have a little flirt and a dance with the ladies, whilst wearing their best Christmas socks and a party hat.
It seems they are making the most of the party atmosphere. You let your hair down and start to do some of your ‘special’ dance moves and then realise you are being filmed on somebody’s phone, apparently its hilarious to see the boss dance. No doubt this will be on social media before the night is over, you feel self-conscious, so you go back to your seat.
You sit, and people watch for a while, your staff are doing the conga and YMCA, they are having fun, it seems like it is a great success.
But now what?
Karen was dancing on the table and has fallen over and hurt herself – is there anyone sober to take her to A&E? You take the initiative to call her a taxi, luckily Jo, has volunteered to go with her, although part of you wished you could leave too.

And then…

The bar staff come and tell you that the tab at the bar has been used, do you want to add more money, and, extra payment is needed for a cleaner as apparently Jason has been sick and made a mess in the lobby.
This isn’t fun, why bother?
It seems that the Christmas party is an event inviting inappropriate behaviour, unwanted advances, discrimination and misconduct. Maybe it is better not to go to the effort?
The truth is there are benefits: Firstly, it’s an opportunity to show employees your appreciation for their hard work throughout the year, and it’s the chance for your team to let their hair down and celebrate their achievements.
It can also be a place where new friends are made as people get the chance to mix socially with others outside their usual departments.
And with careful planning and consideration – the problems listed above can be avoided and the bosses can enjoy themselves at parties too!

How to prepare.

To start with, make sure everyone is invited, this includes staff on holiday, long-term sick or maternity. It’s so important to make sure everyone feels included in the celebrations, so they feel appreciated.
Before the Xmas party, make sure you’ve considered all of your staff. What about those who don’t celebrate Christmas, some religions and faiths do not allow the consumption of alcohol or certain foods, so make sure alternatives are made available.
Let staff know that the party will be an extension of the workplace. Something as simple as this may help some to differentiate between the office party and their usual Saturday night out! Establish the ground rules with a policy for work social events, you want everyone to have fun but not to cause a pile of problems for the following work days.
It’s at the party, when the drinks are flowing, where issues are most likely to occur. Inappropriate behaviour, banter that’s taken too far and even gross misconduct and sexual harassment cases can give you a real headache the next working day. If any situations arise, remember that the Christmas party is an extension of the workplace, so you have every right to investigate and take action.
Social media can be an excellent way of demonstrating your company’s amazing culture by sharing photos and updates from your party. On the flipside, it’s important to have control over what is shared. Inappropriate photos can damage your reputation. Also, some employees may have grievances with their embarrassing photos being shared online. Ensuring you have a carefully considered social media policy in your business will protect yourself and your staff.
Its not to late to prepare if you have Christmas parties coming up. If you need help and advice on this or any other HR query – please get in touch on 01787 695084 or email melanie@bluetreehr.uk
We’ve all heard stories of things that ‘go on’ at the office party, we hope you have fun staff party without the stress and wish you a Merry Christmas from Blue tree HR Solutions.

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