Last Christmas I gave you my heart…
Office romance. The two words that make HR shudder! But how do you handle work romances at social events. It is usual practice that there are acceptable standards of behaviour in the workplace, and it is usually agreed that public displays of affection should be left outside. However, the issue comes at social events such as Christmas parties. Those who are involved with one another will likely be more relaxed and more affectionate towards one another, this of course is absolutely fine providing it doesn’t go too far. But what should you do if it does? Perhaps a quiet word on the night, or a pre-emptive word ahead of the event. You should ensure that you are sensitive and that you are not singling couples out. Perhaps a company wide comms about acceptable behaviour would be useful if you consider this may be an issue.
Stay another day
Annual leave can often become a contentious matter around Christmas with employees often requesting the same days of as others. Depending on your business, you may also require employees to work during the festive period.
Annual leave should be treated the same way as any other request so far as this is possible with a first come first served policy often adopted as a fair way to approach the holiday period. If this is something which often causes an issue to your business, you may consider it best to actively manage the holidays during this period.
If you have a Christmas closure and require employees to use their holidays for this period, you will need to consider whether this is a contractual obligation. If it is not, you must ensure that you give employees twice the duration of the holiday as notice. For example, if you require employees to take 3 days holiday you will need to give them 6 days’ notice. However, it is best practice to give employees as much notice as possible. This will help with engagement as well as giving employee’s the opportunity to manage their holidays.
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
A white Christmas is great for the kids, snowball fights and snowman building! But not so great for those trying to get to work or those who are required to travel for work. Where employees are living in an area which is subject to poor weather you should firstly consider whether they can work from home. If this is a viable option, it should ideally be implemented to keep employees safe.
You should also consider whether the company needs to make any adjustments to delivery times and inform customers of any delays due to the weather conditions. If employees are driving during difficult weather conditions you should ensure that they are safe and taking regular breaks.
Rockin’ around the Christmas Tree
Its Christmas, which means it’s time to dig out the tinsel, plug in the light-up reindeer and decorate the workplace! Many employees love decorating their work areas however you should ensure that this is being done safely and that decorations are securely attached, not a trip or slip hazard and also that they are appropriate. Whilst some employees may find a naked Santa funny, others may not! You should ensure that you are monitoring the decorations being used and that everyone in the workplace is agreeable to the decorations.
You should also be mindful of those with conditions that may be affected by, for example, flashing lights if an employee has epilepsy, or singing decorations for an employee with hearing difficulties which may make it more difficult for them to hear others..
Santa Claus is coming to town!
Secret Santa – you either love it or hate it! Being the person to organise a Secret Santa is never fun but how can you ensure that everyone is happy? Follow the tips below:
- Make it optional – people may have all sorts of reasons why they don’t want to join in. The best part about Secret Santa is it’s a secret, so people don’t have to feel judged they can simply choose not to take part.
- Set a financial limit – some people may be financially better off than others and this may be a deciding factor in why people do not want to take part. You could either set an appropriate limit or alternatively you could make it fun with a challenge, such as everyone having to source their gifts from a charity shop!
Keep it a secret – don’t spill the beans!
Rudolph the red nosed reindeer
We are all familiar with the story of Rudolph being left out by the other reindeer and this serves as a very important reminder to all employers. Christmas isn’t for everyone. For many different reasons, some employees may not celebrate Christmas. This could be for religious or personal reasons and they should not be made to feel uncomfortable or pressured to be involved but also should not be left out of the festivities.
You should consider those who are on maternity, paternity, parental or adoption leave as well as those on sick or bereavement leave. Remember Christmas events include more than just the Christmas party. If you are arranging drinks or giving out Christmas bonuses, those individuals should still be given the option of being involved as far as possible.
Christmas is an exciting time for most, with people excited for a break and spending time with their families. However, Christmas can also be a difficult time for some, so whilst enjoying the festivities remember to consider the feelings of all employees, check in on those who seem down and promote a positive culture of kindness and understanding!
Wishing you a Merry Christmas from the Employment Team at Napthens!