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Work & Christmas: a survival guide

Ho ho ho! ‘Tis the season of goodwill, when people smile more and sing along to festive favourite tunes while hanging tinsel and baubles over anything they can. So here are 7 things to consider as you eat your own weight in mince pies and chocolates:

1 Say thanks

Come on, just say it. Even if you don’t usually and you think your employees are just doing what you’re paying them for. It won’t hurt and, especially if it’s a rare display of gratitude, it’s worth doing. Be more Fezziwig than Scrooge. Say thanks for working hard all year and helping with everything – and smile when you say it.

2 Christmas parties

Are you having a party or a meal or drinks somewhere? Many companies have stopped doing this. They can be pricey and a hassle to arrange, of course, but people appreciate them – although now  we have to factor in Covid risks too. It’s important to remember that they count as a “work” event and are covered by employment laws, which means any bust-ups or bad behaviour might have to be dealt with when you’re back in the workplace. So it’s probably not a great idea to tell someone exactly what you think of them if your opinion’s amplified by alcohol. Don’t wreck the good working relationships that you’ve had all year in one night. You can see more advice about Christmas parties here.

3 Open or closed over the holidays

Have you made a decision or are you waiting until the last minute? That’s not really fair on your people because their holiday plans are also up in the air, so try to reach a decision soon. What about pay or holidays, if everyone has to take the time off as holiday? Better check that won’t cause any issues or be a nasty surprise for anyone just before Christmas.

4 Any bad news

Any plans for a change, restructuring, down-sizing or anything else that you know will be unpopular? Work can’t stop for Santa’s season, but think carefully about the timing because the impact and people’s reactions might be greater at this time of year. Can it wait a few weeks?

5 Scrambling to finish everything

Some people work harder and longer in December to clear as much as possible by Christmas Eve – especially if everyone’s then on holiday. Take a deep breath, step back and think about what can wait until January rather than ploughing on and on. Is it really so urgent and important that it can’t wait? Tasks might be finished in a better way in the New Year, without the time pressures of a Christmas deadline.

6 Christmas cards

Are you sending any to colleagues and customers? Best get on with it soon! An early card means more than something that arrives on Christmas Eve – or worse, in the New Year. Nothing dates faster than references to Christmas after Boxing Day.

7 Not everyone does Christmas

Whether it’s down to different religions or just a complete lack of interest in the season, not everyone wants to know. Leave them alone: don’t tease, harass or nag people to get involved. Your idea of joking might be their idea of bullying. Remember, it’s the season of goodwill to everyone… not just the people who’ll put on the Santa hat and sing along to Mariah Carey, Wham and Slade.