As we enter the festive season, many businesses are looking forward to their office Christmas parties, especially following the absence of them last year. However, alcohol and end of year fatigue can sometimes cause problems. Therefore, it is essential that you make expectations clear and ensure that employees understand what level of behaviour is acceptable. Remind people of the various policies you have in place on dignity and respect and on drugs and alcohol misuse. Providing a free bar all night can encourage excessive drinking and increase the likelihood of staff behaving inappropriately. Offer a couple of complimentary drinks instead and give managers responsibility for ensuring that employees do not become unwell or disorderly. Make sure non-alcoholic drinks are also served. Even if the party is held off work premises, you may still be liable for any discriminatory behaviour such as sexual harassment.
For those of you who have unfortunately had to cancel/decide not to have Christmas parties this year, it is important that this is managed in the correct way. If you are unable to arrange Christmas parties, why not consider using some of the usual budget to organise presents for members of staff. Furthermore, you could hold a virtual event, such as a Christmas quiz or an escape room. Similarly, if you have to cancel your Christmas event, why not arrange something virtual in its place. It is essential that staff morale is recognised as important and that you find a way to mark the festive period, in a way that includes everyone.
Christmas parties are not the only festive event, many employees may request time off for school events, such as school plays. You must consider these requests reasonably and fairly. You could consider allowing employees to work from home on the day of the event or make up the time lost at a later date. It is important that employees feel valued, especially after the difficult year we have experienced. There have been many challenges over the past year and beyond, with many workers putting in extra hours or working under very tough conditions. Make sure that you acknowledge the hard work and dedication of your staff and ensure that they are thanked – even if it’s with an e-card, a personal message on email or a small gift.