The Importance of HR at Christmas – The Facts

The risks of having no HR in cHRistmas!

Apart from the obvious mis-spelling of cistmas, there are some more worrying HR challenges to think about during the festive period

Most companies by now are already in the throes of agonising over their Christmas party. Whether it’s a departmental lunch or a large all-company event, a festive knees-up will inevitably lead to some fall-outs, embarrassing moments and, for the employers footing the bill, some major HR challenges and risks.

Firstly, employers that keep their offices open over the Christmas period may have a battle on their hands dealing with conflicting overtime requirements and employees’ personal holiday plans. Then, there’s the event itself and ensuring that it’s as ‘inclusive’ as possible- taking various religions into account when planning the date, location, theme and catering. Once agreed and booked, the challenges don’t stop there (!) with employers/HR professionals having to decide how to ensure employees behave appropriately as well as how to deal with those who turn up late (if at all) the morning after the big event.

So what are the risks?

Because employment laws are still applicable for any company related events (whether in or outside the workplace) it is sensible to assume that a company can be held ‘vicariously liable’ for the actions of its employees, if those actions are deemed to have occurred in the “course of employment”.

So, to protect themselves from being the subject of a vast array of potential harassment, misconduct, unfair dismissal and discrimination claims (to name but a few), employers should ensure their policies and procedures relating to work-related social events, disciplinary proceedings and equality of treatment are up-to-date – and even more importantly communicated to employees.

Our tips to help get you through the party season unscathed

To ensure any seasonal celebrations run smoothly and safely, and remain the morale booster they’re intended to be, please see our other Christmas blog about Christmas party tips and tricks.

Remember, that Christmas parties are an extension of the workplace and therefore managers and HR professionals have their part to play in being positive ‘role-models’ of acceptable and responsible behaviour including, if necessary, monitoring the activities of staff and their intake of alcohol on the day.

Beware the Christmas party aftermath!

Not just on absence levels the next day(s) but also any photos captured and uploaded onto social networks. The ease and speed with which they can find an audience mean employers need to consider how to respond to any which could generate negative publicity about the company or lead to tensions between staff. Having a social media policy that extends to work events is as important as communicating to staff the need to respect their colleagues’ privacy (as part of GDPR). If it’s a big event, it might be worth appointing somebody to take ‘official’ photos instead.

Post-Christmas Blues

Whilst company Christmas festivities are all about improving staff morale and loyalty and thanking employees for all their hard work and efforts over the previous year, don’t just ‘bank’ on this one day. Spare a thought for Blue Monday – and start to plan!

Monday 21st January 2019 has the dubious distinction of being named as one of the most depressing days of the year. It’s supposedly so depressing because of a combination of post-Christmas bills, the abandonment of New Year resolutions, low sunlight levels and cold weather. Further, according to research conducted by Leetchi.com, the 31st January has been found to be the day most Brits hand in their notice!

So employers and HR professionals don’t take your foot off the engagement pedal (yet) and look out for, monitor and respond to signs of poor mental health. Employees who are stressed or have a mental illness, and who do not feel supported by their employer, are more likely to consider handing in their resignation letters at this time. Make sure you’re not one of them or else all that morale-boosting Christmas cheer and appreciation will have gone to waste. Think positive! Consider an all-company/departmental gathering In January which focuses on the future and reflects the company’s vision and plans, listens to employees and adopts bold and positive changes.

So, on this note, we would like to wish you all a well-deserved break and a positive, as well as, a prosperous 2019!


If you need any support with your HR or need us to resolve any people issues, please send us an email and one of our HR professionals will be in contact with you.