It’s the biggest event of the year. It’s a chance to eat, drink and be merry. Or it’s an awkward aspect of office life that has to be endured. However you view it, the office Christmas party is a highlight on many workplace’s social calendar. But, from an HR point of view, it’s a Christmas cocktail of pent up emotion, alcohol and dancing that can unleash a whole sleigh full of issues.
Here are a few guidelines to help ensure your Christmas party is more Ho Ho Ho and less OMG.
- Make it worthwhile. There’s nothing more lacklustre than a half-hearted Christmas party. Standing around the photocopier with a mini sausage roll and a plastic cup of cheap wine is not going to make staff feel appreciated. If you’re going to have a party, make it a good one. It’s the perfect opportunity to demonstrate why your company is a great place to work.
- Keep an eye on alcohol consumption. You can’t expect people to let their hair down and get into the party spirit without at least a glass or two of something chilled and bubbly, but if the alcohol is allowed to flow too freely, things can soon get out of hand. Limit the number of free drinks and provide plenty of food and entertainment so people have more to do than simply get sozzled.
- Restrain romance. Staff parties provide the perfect environment for the previous year’s flirting to go a step further – which is usually a step too far. The festive spirit and the absence of wives, husbands and partners, can cause embarrassing repercussions when you’re all back at work. Sometimes it can be more serious and lead to harassment issues. It’s a good idea, therefore, to remind everyone of the company’s policy on workplace relationships before the party is underway.
- Restrict social media. Many people these days feel that, if they can’t film it and share it online, it’s not worth doing. However, when it involves a work function, inappropriate photos can damage the reputation of the company and the individuals involved. Clarify beforehand that smartphones and social media are off-limits for the duration of the party – which will have the added benefit of encouraging people to loosen up without fear of public humiliation.
- Make sure everyone’s invited. Consider everybody when planning the Christmas party. Some may not drink, others may not celebrate Christmas, and there will be those that are out of the office on holiday or maternity leave. Make it a party for everyone and they’ll all feel appreciated and part of the celebrations.
While no one wants to be a party pooper, the office Christmas party is a work activity and you are responsible for your employee’s welfare. So, bear in mind these festive top tips, then put on your party hat and hit the dance floor!