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6 tips for your Christmas party

On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me: 12 drunken staff, 11 promised pay rises, 10 crates of beer bought, 9 passed out workers, 8 leering managers, 7 punches thrown, 6 cupboard lovers, 5 bullied workers, 4 broken bones, 3 drunk drivers, 2 sexist jokers and a Christmas party headache!

The annual Christmas party is generally considered good for morale, an opportunity to socialise with colleagues and a grand old excuse for a booze-up.  While I don’t want to sound like Scrooge, here’s are 6 tips about the most common pitfalls that employers face at this time of year.


Have a think about what type of event you are planning.  Think about whether some staff might feel excluded. An evening event might not be possible for those with childcare responsibilities. People with non-Christian faiths should not be excluded, nor pressurised into attending. Make sure that everyone is invited but remember not everyone is a social butterfly. Give them the option to duck out. If partners are invited, ensure that same sex partners are not left out.


Have yourself a merry little Christmas – but if you are providing alcohol, make sure it’s not too merry. Provide plenty of soft drink options.  A recent case in Australia found an employee who sexually harassed colleagues and told his boss to f*** off had been unfairly dismissed, because the employer served unlimited amounts of alcohol and was therefore not in a position to insist on standards of conduct.  So restrict the amount of booze, set a time limit for the party to end and think about how to get people home safely. Besides, not everyone’s lovely when they’re drunk and you might not want to see that side of some people.


Fancy a white Christmas? If the white stuff is less cold, flaky and wet and more powdery and illegal, you should take steps to ban it from your staff party. Even ignoring drug use that you know to be happening on your watch could land your organisation in hot water, if people get caught.


Employers should also be careful about the timing of parties: lunchtime or midweek parties have the potential to cause problems if your employees are returning to work in a less than productive state. An office full of hungover people might cause problems later on, if they’re making mistakes.


Do you hear what I hear? If that’s the sound of you or your managers making promises to staff about anything contractual, including pay rises, start worrying and work on ways to avoid this. Promises made in this way could be binding and intoxication might not be a sufficient defence. So have these chats before or after the party – not at the party.


If you have problems and might discipline employees for absence, misconduct, festive fisticuffs and inappropriate groping you need to make your policy clear, be consistent and apply the rules as you would at any other time of year. The party still counts as happening during the course of employment so everyone needs to be aware of this.

You can see more advice about getting to Christmas smoothly at https://www.quickhr.biz/work-christmas-a-survival-guide/.

Have fun, enjoy yourselves – and Bah Humbug!

By Melissa