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HR Dilemmas at the office Christmas party…

It’s that time of year again when discussions in the office are about the office Christmas party! What is everyone wearing, who will get really drunk and embarrass themselves, will HR be there as the fun police and will anyone be sacked in January for alcohol-induced absences, drunken shenanigans and for offending their colleagues?

What happens when the drinks have been flowing a little too enthusiastically, complaints of damage caused by one of your employees and a grievance on your desk from an upset employee who has had to fend off an over friendly colleague with some mistletoe?

As internal HR do you feel like the Scrooge of Christmas, do you feel pressure to behave impeccably? Should you remain alcohol free? Should you turn a blind eye to anything that occurs? and can you really be part of the team? The list of dilemmas is endless!!

Don’t panic! Here are some festive tips for avoiding common HR issues at office Christmas parties and to have a party to remember for all the right reasons without the January HR headache.

  • Request with agreement that a reliable manager or HR representative remains alcohol-free so they can keep an eye on everything and everyone.
  • Cap the free bar, perhaps with drink tokens, and provide food or snacks of some kind (to help with alcohol absorption)! Ensure a range of refreshments, including soft drinks are provided in order to cater to everyone and to encourage rehydration.
  • Show a duty of care towards staff such as arranging for transport to take employees home once the event has ended.
  • Remind staff that you expect them to come into work on time the following day if the party is held during the week, or they should book annual leave. Alternatively hold the party on a Friday or Saturday to avoid absence issues.
  • Inform staff that they are representing the Company and as such should behave appropriately. Employees can of course share photos from the Christmas party on their personal social media accounts, providing that they are appropriate and uploaded with common sense.
  • Deal with any complaints that arise from the party in a timely manner and carry out a thorough investigation before deciding on any disciplinary action.
  • If you decide to have your event during the day such as an extended festive lunch with a return to work, then consuming alcohol should not really be encouraged. If, however employees are permitted to have some alcohol and there is then a situation where an employee is behaving unacceptably, you should send them home and conduct an investigation once you have returned to work.

If all this sounds like hard work, then why bother?! Although Christmas parties can create issues they should also be encouraged for a number of reasons such as:

  • Boosting staff morale,
  • Building team rapport,
  • Rewarding hard work during the year and
  • They help to create the Christmas spirit

So, should HR attend a Christmas party? Of course HR should attend! It is your Christmas party too; you have worked hard all year and you deserve a treat. Just make sure that you follow the rules because that would be very embarrassing!!!!