HR Expert: Planning The Works Christmas Party

My client is planning their work’s Christmas party and has asked me what things they need to consider to ensure this runs smoothly?

As we head into December most staff across the country will be looking forward to their respective Christmas parties and the chance to celebrate with their colleagues outside of the typical working environment. However, the thought of planning a Christmas party can be a stressful proposition for your client, bringing with it a number of risks that need to be addressed in order for it to run smoothly.

If your client is still to decide on the location of their Christmas party, then they should choose wisely. Although their first thought may be to hold the party at a local bar they should consider how inclusive this is, especially for employees that are pregnant, have certain religious beliefs or are under the legal drinking age. Your client should keep in mind that for a Christmas party to be successful in building team morale, it should be suitable for all staff. Therefore, it is important that aspects such as the venue, catering, and activities are appropriate for a diverse range of individuals.

Whilst your client will want staff to have fun on the night, provisions should be in place to ensure behaviour doesn’t get out of hand. Your client should consider implementing a policy which addresses office parties and work-related social events, outlining that staff has a duty to behave responsibly at all times. It is also advisable to issue individuals with a reminder that the company’s rules on acceptable behaviour will still apply at the event and that incidents of misconduct will be treated seriously.

Despite your client’s best efforts, there is the possibility that misconduct may still occur. If this is the case, your client must back up their earlier promise and ensure any allegations are investigated fully. Your client should remember that they can be liable for employees’ actions at these events, therefore any individuals that are found to have taken part in bullying, harassment or any form of physical or verbal abuse should be disciplined accordingly.

The day after the party can also present issues for your client, with absences and office gossip a common occurrence. Whilst it is not necessarily easy to plan for such disruptions, your client is advised to make sure appropriate absence procedures are in place and rely on these as normal. Although office gossip can also be difficult to control, your client should encourage line managers to monitor employee behaviour as normal and remind staff that conversations during working time must remain appropriate.

The annual Christmas party can be a great way to reward hard-working staff and improve employee relations, so long as it is planned correctly. By following the steps above your client should be able to avoid any unsavoury incidents and ensure the party is a success on all fronts.

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