Halloween and bonfire night are a distant memory and so the shops are now brimming with Christmas paraphernalia. The countdown is well and truly on towards the big day and, if you haven’t booked it already, your annual Christmas party may be at the forefront of your to do list! Generally speaking, most employees really look forward to this time of year, spirits are high in the office, celebrations are underway and of course lots of professions have a good break from the workplace over the festive period.
As a Director or a Business Owner, I’m sure you’ll also be looking forward to a well-earned break and the celebrations surrounding Christmas. However, you may also have your reservations, because as we all know, parties and suchlike can sometimes get a little out of hand….. The following article aims to discuss the pros and cons of the Christmas party from an HR perspective, taking into account company culture, collaboration and teamwork:
Your business’s culture may be one of the primary reasons your employees stay working where they are. And of course celebrations of this kind enhance your company’s culture and remind employees why they are working for your organisation – Because it’s fun, collaborative and they have a fantastic team surrounding them.
Team bonding and engagement
It can take a while to become properly embedded within a team and those team members who are finding this aspect tricky or are relatively new to the company, may benefit from the Christmas do in respect of it acting as an ice breaker. Socialising outside of the office and the work environment can work wonders for integration into a team and seeing perhaps a more relaxed, carefree and fun side to your colleagues.
Christmas parties have a habit of creating a sense of inclusion amongst employees and therefore as a result, promote higher levels of engagement. And, we all know that employee engagement is one of the top focus areas for Directors/Company Owners and HR professionals today, because it’s so strongly related with on-the-job performance.
Christmas parties and the type of festivities held are often interpreted as an indicator of business stability and prosperity. If your business is stable and healthy you may be more likely to hold a Christmas party. Some business go all out and hold Christmas balls with free food and drink, while other companies put some money towards an evening out. Whichever company you may be, it demonstrates to your employees that you are willing to facilitate an event for them to thank them for all their hard work throughout the year.
Mingling beyond immediate colleagues
Earlier in the article, we discussed how relationships can develop at these kinds of occasions. However, what we also have to remember is that employees can sometimes stick with what they know and who they know. The thought is that everyone will mingle and make the effort with colleagues they don’t know so well to ensure everyone is integrated. But, sadly, this isn’t always the case. This means those individuals who already feel side-lined, can feel even more so at these types of events.
The liabilities of alcohol
It’s not uncommon for employees to get somewhat overexcited at these occasions and who can blame them when you take into consideration how hard they’ve (hopefully) worked all year; juggling their work and home life and driving the business towards success. However, the office party is an extension of the workplace where employees are representing your company and so they must be conscious of this.
It’s not uncommon for people to lower their guard, especially when alcohol is involved. Some may engage in behaviour which just isn’t appropriate for the workplace and this can sometimes lead to some serious consequences which need to be dealt with by an HR professional. We don’t mean to scare you here but it’s not uncommon for allegations of sexual harassment or other similar claims, drink driving and the risk of injury.
As the drinks flow and inhibitions drop, it has of course been known for individuals to insult you, the company or co-workers, so it’s important to make sure that this type of behaviour is nipped in the bud and there is the common understanding that this is entirely unacceptable.
All we would say, is have fun and make sure your employees have fun, because as noted above, there are many benefits to these types of events and they can create a real sense of camaraderie, employee engagement and team collaboration. That being said, it is important to remember that there’s always evidence left behind from these types of events mainly because everyone has a camera on them nowadays in the form of their mobile phone and because of the rise in social media usage.
So, simply make sure all employees are aware of the boundaries and what behaviour is and isn’t acceptable, because the employer can be held vicariously liable for an employee's actions or omissions if considered to have taken place in the course of their employment. Later this month we will discuss some simple steps to follow to stay safe when throwing the Christmas party. In the meantime, if you need any support with the process then please make sure you contact us on 01453 297557 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.