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  • Rachel Legon

How to avoid a HR hangover this festive season…

So, it’s that time of the year again… the office tree is up, the Christmas songs are playing and all talk turns to the Christmas party. If you’re lucky, all will go without a hitch with good old-fashioned fun, dodgy dancing and nothing more than a friendly peck on the cheek under the mistletoe. Everyone has a great time and you can consider it one successful festive event ticked off the calendar and one step closer to that well-deserved Christmas break.

For many, the Christmas Party will be exactly that but unfortunately sometimes things can take an unexpected turn. However, with a bit of forward thinking, even as your business gets bigger you can improve your chances of avoiding a festive HR fiasco with these simple tips:

Try something different... Why not trade in the Christmas Party for a different type of team event, one that doesn’t revolve purely around alcohol? Controversial, I know! 😉Focus on festive team building activities to increase team bonding and engagement. Ask for suggestions from the team, set a budget and let them decide. It doesn’t have to be a beige meal, followed by a dreary disco at the local hotel… why not take on a team challenge like a Santa Run or an Escape Room? Or give something back to your local community by volunteering as team to help those in need? You can always go for drinks after, if you must 😊

Be inclusive... Ensure your event caters for your whole team. Remember that some of your team may not celebrate Christmas due to their religious beliefs, others may not enjoy Christmas for any number of personal reasons. For others social anxiety will make the prospect of a party daunting, or perhaps you have people in your team battling addictions which rule out alcohol centric events for them. Take five minutes to think about your event from the perspective of those in your team, if it doesn’t exclude particular groups, is optional and flexible, go for it!

Set expectations ahead of the event… Often people forget, or do not realise that whilst at a Company event policies and procedures still apply. Take the opportunity to remind them, particularly if alcohol is going play a part in your celebrations. You don’t need to be a killjoy, but a gentle reminder of the fine line between flirting and sexual harassment, banter and bullying and being boisterous and violent, wouldn’t go amiss and could save you a lot of bother the morning after. Trust me, there is nothing less festive than the disciplinary process!

And if you are planning a traditional party, consider drinks tokens instead of a free bar... If you ply people with free alcohol into the early hours, you’re asking for trouble (maybe not this year, but your time will come! 😊). With inhibitions lowered it’s only a matter of time before there is a flirtation to far, or banter descends into a brawl. Of course, you want your team to have fun and relax and this should be encouraged, but why not consider providing a welcome drink + a couple of drinks tokens for the bar and free soft drinks all night. Firstly, if they’re paying, they will drink less which will reduce the chance of an issue arising. Secondly, if an issue does arise you are far more likely to be considered to have acted as a reasonable employer in respect of your People’s health and safety.

Finally, lead by example... Remember that as a business owner, it’s always wise to maintain a professional relationship with your team and not allow yourself to be ‘one of the lads/ ladies’, not even at the Christmas Party – it will be incredibly hard to manage a situation in the moment if you’re inebriated or part of the issue yourself and even harder to take action after the event if you need to, if you were as drunk as they were. Stick to a couple of drinks and save your festive frolics for another (non-work related) time.

The festive period should be a time for you and your team to relax and have fun together, to celebrate the passing of another (hopefully successful) year, bond and make memories to carry with them into the New Year. By considering the points above you can give them an event to remember and save yourself from a HR hangover which is sure to dampen your spirits well into 2020!

If you do find yourself in spot of festive bother or would like to discuss ways to avoid a festive fiasco, do remember that I am offering a free 30 minute advice call/ consultation for new clients and would love the opportunity to assist!

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