Christmas is fun and exciting, but also a very stressful and complicated time in the workplace. Employers need to ensure they are prepared for the festive season and the number of potential HR challenges they are likely to encounter. Whilst Christmas rewards and bonuses may be used to highlight an employer’s appreciation of their employees, the Christmas parties can bring up issues of conduct and annual leave requests can prove difficult to manage. The celebration of a religious holiday can also bring up questions surrounding holidays for other faiths.
If you’re feeling unprepared or overwhelmed for the festive period then check out our ‘Employers guide to Christmas’ to help you make this Christmas a positive experience with an opportunity to gain trust and boost engagement within your workplace.
The Christmas Party
Although, for many, the highlight of the working year and a chance to celebrate the year’s successes together and bond as a team, office Christmas parties are notorious for misconduct. It is important for employers to be clear about the expected standard of behaviour at the Christmas party, and what kinds of behaviour are unacceptable. Employers should also be aware that they could be held vicariously liable for the actions of their employees, if their actions are deemed to have been committed in the course of employment. In order to avoid things getting out of hand, it’s advisable to ensure that plenty of soft drinks and food is provided amongst the alcohol and perhaps appoint a few managers (depending on your company size) to help monitor staff. While this all may sound a little bah-humbug, making sure that everyone behaves in a way that reflects positively on the company is essential. Being prepared for your Christmas party will allow for a better time to be had by all, meaning you can toast to the New Year with confidence.
If your company remains open over the Christmas period then clashing holiday requests from employees may become an issue as many wish to spend the festive season with their loved ones. It is imperative to book an employee’s annual leave ahead of time and ensure your company’s policy is clear to everyone, not just those who thoroughly read their contracts, to avoid tension and disappointment. Make sure Christmas leave is handled in a timely and fair fashion to maintain a level of goodwill and trust amongst your employees. If your company closes over the festive period then excellent organisation and time keeping is essential. Avoid the last-minute rush to finish off projects and ensure the workload is completed on time, so everyone can enjoy their well-earned break.
Christmas Presents and Rewards
Research has shown that half of UK employees (50%) do not receive a reward or gift from their manager or employer at Christmas [Motivates Inc. Ltd]. It is understandable that some companies may not have the budget to reward their staff with a Christmas bonus or gift, but it is at this time of year that it is beneficial to voice your appreciation of your employees for their work throughout the year. Alternative rewards can be as simple (and cheap) as personally thanking them. A little gratitude goes a long way for company morale. If you can afford to reward your workforce, 64% of employees said they would like an individual cash bonus, which was the reward option that ranked the highest. However, thoughtful gifts trump cash, showing employees that thought and consideration has been put into their reward. Employees are more likely to talk about a gift that is personal as opposed to a cash reward.
As well as being a legal requirement, diversity is a fantastic thing in the workplace, it enables you to develop new ways of thinking and allows your company to reach a wider audience or market. However, despite living in a multi-cultural society, we still give priority to Christmas, celebrating it enthusiastically within the workplace, often it takes priority over other cultural and religious holidays. Although celebrating the festive season at work is a great way to boost morale and can have a positive impact on employees, for some it can be an isolating time. Some of your employees may not celebrate Christmas or simply may dislike the time of year, therefore it is advisable to assess whether any staff would be offended or uncomfortable with decorations, music and general celebrations before they begin to maintain an inclusive workforce. Depending on your company’s policy, some workers may feel that it is unfair if they are forced to take Christmas as a holiday, yet are not given time off for their own religious holidays. It is advisable for the HR department to assess these needs and adequately accommodate employee’s needs for religious celebrations if it does so for Christmas.