With the Christmas party season just around the corner, we here at DCA Accountants are always looking out for the best interests of our clients and readers. As such, we have decided to talk today about the darker side of the office Christmas party which could place a dark cloud over the season for you or your staff. The Christmas party season is often rife with reports of bullying of all kinds and harassment. Not quite the ideal way to round off a busy working year.
The office Christmas Party is a great way to thank your employees for a year of hard work and dedication. It can also be a good way to get to know your co-workers outside of a strict office environment. However, from a managerial standpoint it can be somewhat of a mine-field, with a UK study stating that one in ten employees knows someone who has been disciplined or dismissed following the staff Christmas party. The top two culprits here are alcohol-fuelled fights and sexual harassment issues. These issues are not widely considered when choosing the event, but one that is important to bear in mind. We suggest some ways to avoid these awkward and unnecessary stumbling blocks and ensure that both you and all staff have a wonderful trouble-free evening.
The standard office Christmas party will usually occur outside of the work premises. Despite this fact, it is vital to remember that the responsibility still remains with the employer to ensure the protection of all employees. If cases of harassment are brought up, you as the employer are liable, despite the party location. The party environment may be festive, but legally the event is just an extension of the office.
A good way to ensure that all staff know that they must still behave appropriately with one another during the party is to circulate a memo which pinpoints the company’s/office’s no-tolerance approach to issues such as bullying and harassment. This notice should also include the company grievance procedures should any staff have issues. Management should be advised not to discuss any business matters such as salaries etc. at the event. This will ensure that no promises are made under the influence of alcohol which cannot be kept when the haze passes.
Something else which is not widely considered is that the party should be optional for all staff and not mandatory. This allows for people with other beliefs or responsibilities to politely decline without feeling awkward. We would also advise arranging specific finishing times for your event and perhaps arranging transport to avoid further dangers for you and your staff.
With employers and employees under increasing pressure to hold onto their positions, these easy pitfalls at the staff Christmas party are easily avoided. The most important thing to bear in mind is that the boundaries of acceptable behaviour must be set out beforehand in order to avoid any unnecessary stress or awkwardness. We here at DCA Accountants hope that you and all your staff/co-workers have an enjoyable Christmas party and festive season.