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Simply having a wonderful Christmas time? Festivities at work, unwrapped

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As a recruitment agency in Basingstoke, we love to meet up with other local businesses to build relationships and discuss current topics that affect us all. During our latest peer group discussion, the conversation soon turned towards the issues that can arise at Christmas…

Professional party-goers

Work Christmas parties are the ideal opportunity to celebrate and reward everything your staff have achieved over the past year – and they can also be a brilliant teambuilding exercise. That said, in a professional setting all that festive fun does need to be balanced with an element of conduct. After all, staff are representing your business and how they behave in the bar, restaurant or party venue could affect your business’ reputation.

Set the guidelines of what will and what won’t be seen as acceptable behaviour from those attending. That way people know what is expected from them. A good time to do this is when you send out event details to those who’ve said yes – perhaps mention it at the bottom of the email. You don’t have to overstate it and may even wish to use humour to get the message across without dampening the pre-party spirit.

Don’t force it

It’s easy to assume that a Christmas party is welcomed by all, but some people actually dread the thought of socialising with their work associates! It can lead to peer pressure over what to wear, how much to drink, who to kiss under the mistletoe, are you a scrooge for not wanting to go? Will you be talked about for not going? Some people may have mental health problems that make socialising feel overwhelming. Have a plan for those who may not want to attend and allow them to make that decision easily. Use an open form of invitation like an e-invite that doesn’t make anyone feel forced into going.

What happens when your company has agency or contractors working for you? Do you invite them too? Why not? Only inviting a selection of the workforce can be derisive and potentially discriminatory.

What happens at the Christmas party stays at the Christmas party

Post-Christmas ‘do’ gossip can be hard to manage. Often you don’t even have to have done the talked about deed, just to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. As a manager, keep your ears open for anything damaging or hurtful so you can deal with the situation swiftly and diplomatically. As a colleague, don’t get involved in hearsay – and definitely don’t spread things that you have no idea are true or false. Think how you would feel if you were the topic of nasty gossip.

Sleeping over?

A large part of our peer group discussion was around when the party stops. Is it when the “official” event closes? When the after party finally breaks up? Or when your last employee leaves the hotel room they have booked? The latter. Yes, even if they have paid for the hotel room themselves. They are only there because of the work do. So, when having that conduct discussion explain that it covers the state they leave their hotel room in, too.

Unwanted gifts

Secret Santa gifts are commonplace in most workplaces these days. Whilst it’s usually just a fun and affordable way to give gifts to colleagues, be aware of any inappropriate behaviour here too. What one person thinks is a funny gift may be highly embarrassing for someone else. Be aware of cultural differences. Make people aware that secret santa isn’t compulsory and encourage participants to be kind – isn’t that the Christmas message?

To summarise, here are our top tips for a safe and happy work Christmas party:

Enjoy your Christmas party in a way that means everyone can let their hair down without damage to your company image – or anyone’s feelings.

1. Set a conduct policy – be clear about expectations (even that of partners)
2. Don’t have a free bar – it’s asking for trouble (try drinks tokens to avoid excess)
3. Do allow people to say no to the invite without peer pressure
4. Set clear rules for Secret Santa – what is and isn’t appropriate
5. Be prepared to “clean up” after the event either by quashing gossip or investigating bad behaviour

Wote Street People is a recruitment agency in Basingstoke that can help you find the right staff for your business. If you’re looking to fill jobs in Basingstoke and the surrounding area give our friendly team a call. Talk to us today to find out more on 01256 799127.

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