Top tips on 'keeping the lid' on Christmas Parties

Christmas Parties are a great way for businesses to show appreciation to their workforce – but what happens when things go a bit pear-shaped and staff misbehave? Angela Roberts provides top tips on how to prevent misconduct and mitigate the risks to your business.

Work Christmas parties provide an opportunity for managers and employees to enjoy the festivities with their colleagues without the pressure of meeting deadlines and achieving KPIs. They are a great way for businesses to reward and thank their teams for their hard work throughout the year.

The benefits of thanking people for their hard work are well-documented and include improved team morale and overall sense of job satisfaction. However, Christmas parties can get out of hand and be the cause of many HR headaches or worse! You want everyone to have a good time but you don’t want things to get out of control. The last thing you want is a January plagued by grievances, claims of sexual harassment and staff with drink driving convictions.

There is also the reputation of the company to consider. In some cases, poor behaviour could potentially damage your company’s reputation, especially if consumers or clients hear about it. With social media uploads and live streaming on everyone’s phone, the damage to the brand could be instant and difficult to undo.

But, the good news is, it doesn’t have to be this way. There are things that can be done to mitigate the risks of a Christmas party ending in an HR nightmare.

Here are my top tips:

  1. Ensure your policies on bullying and harassment, drugs and alcohol, and social media are up-to-date. The Equality Act states that employers are liable for acts of discrimination, harassment and victimisation carried out by their employees unless it can be proven you have taken reasonable steps to educate your employees.
  2. Consider having a responsible manager or a member of the HR team ‘on duty’ and alcohol-free so they can be ready to deal with any situations if they do arise
  3. Avoid free bars – the company does not want to be seen as encouraging excessive alcohol consumption wherever possible
  4. Remind staff of your code of conduct and reiterate that this still applies at any work parties and activities and behaviour outside of work premises
  5. Ensure everyone knows they are representing the company
  6. Brief managers on expectations

It is important to make sure everyone is invited and feels included but consider that there will be those with religious beliefs or sensitivities which should be respected. When staff decline invitations for these reasons, colleagues should respond with respect, sensitivity and thought given how invitations to events at this time of year can ensure inclusivity.

Author: Angela Roberts set up in the HR Consultancy in 2013 and has over 20 years’ experience in senior roles within HR support across different sectors. 

Explore related resources

These areas of the People Skills Hub will help you to address some of the issues covered in this blog:

  • Performance management: learn how to improve and develop your employees' performance and how to align their goals with your business objectives
  • Capability issues: discover how to effectively manage a capability process to help improve an employee's poor performance
  • Disciplinary issues: information on how to effectively manage a disciplinary process to deal with misconduct or poor performance