HR · 5 December 2016

Ten management tips for a happy and trouble-free Christmas party

office party
Employers need to take an inclusive view towards the office Christmas party

As an employer, how do you ensure everyone stays happy at your end-of-year party, while making sure there are no embarrassments, regrets or even disciplinary hearings afterwards? Here, head of advisory at Peninsula HR, Kate Palmer, provides her ten top tips.

The work’s Christmas ‘do’ is a great opportunity to celebrate a year of success and gather colleagues together in a more relaxed environment.

Every employer wants their staff to have a great time at the Christmas party, but to make it so takes some pretty smart organisation even before you think about venues.

Even fairly small teams can consist of a wide variety of cultures and religions, so for starters, you need to make sure you take an inclusive view – and then there are all kinds of extra considerations to make.

Here are our top ten tips for hosting a Christmas party that won’t leave anyone on the ‘naughty’ list:

(1) Make sure that everyone feels included, especially if they don’t share the religious values associated with Christmas – this means checking that the day of the week you choose isn’t sacred for other religions that could mean certain staff members can’t join in.

(2) Declare a ‘no pressure’ policy, so nobody feels obliged to attend if they don’t feel comfortable.

(3) Make sure catering covers vegetarians, vegans, those that abstain from alcohol and any special dietary needs – and that everything’s clearly labelled.

(4) Relax the rules – while it’s an extension of the workplace in some regards, you still want people to have fun.

(5) However, while point four is important, you still need to advise employees that certain standards of behaviour are still expected.

(6) Provide written guidance on personal conduct. For example, no aggressive or bullying behaviour, and no harassment – and make it clear that if these rules are contravened, it will be dealt with in the same way as if it occurred during normal working circumstances.

(7) Don’t lay on a free bar – it makes any rules under point six more difficult to uphold.

(8) However, it is Christmas, so you want to get into the spirit a little. Offer to buy the first round of drinks, or provide a bottle of wine for each table.

(9) Try to assign a designated non-drinker from management to keep a subtle eye on staff without spoiling any legitimate fun.

(10) If the party falls on a work night, clearly state your expectations for attendance in the morning – even if that means letting everyone come in an hour later, or providing a free breakfast or energy drink.

Finding the balance between Santa and Scrooge can feel like a challenge at Christmas, but these tips will help everyone to have a fantastic time, while allowing you to relax and enjoy it too.

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Kate Palmer CIPD is the head of advisory at law firm Peninsula and is a member of its senior leadership team. She joined in 2009 having held a senior HR manager's role in another large company. With a specialist background in facilities management in the NHS, Kate offers a wealth of employment law experience. She's an expert negotiator - one notable case was with the NHS's trade unions over terms and conditions in the Agenda for Change pay system.