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Christmas and HR – Top 5 Tips

In our previous blog, “Christmas Parties: A celebration of culture or a HR Headache”, we went through the pros and cons of what can be one of the most wonderful but also stressful employee events in the corporate calendar, the Christmas Party. 

Christmas parties are very popular, and, this year more than ever will be highly anticipated, as our teams look forward to the prospect of meeting again in person.

But it is not all eating and dancing over the festive period: December, in fact, can be a very busy month for businesses, crammed with deadlines and HR challenges such as annual leave, bonuses etc…do you feel overwhelmed just reading this?

Well relax, check out our 5 “Christmassy” top tips:


1. Christmas bonus Maybe or maybe not? Managing the fallout

Does your company have a history of giving the team a Christmas bonus? Bonuses can be a powerful reward and recognition tool that motivates and builds loyalty. It is also a great feeling as a leader to give back to the team who (fingers crossed) have worked so hard to help you achieve business goals, at a time of the year where many families are struggling the most financially.  

But what if, this year, your company is not in the position to provide a bonus?  

The first thing you need to consider here is whether the bonus is contractual or discretionary. In the first case you are most likely obliged to make these payments, if the employee has met the necessary criteria. If however, the bonus is discretionary but employees have always been awarded a bonus payment in the past, then it may feel difficult for you as a leader to suddenly refuse awarding a Christmas bonus. 

In these circumstances communication is key. Explaining to teams why bonuses are not being paid or are only being paid to certain staff will often provide people peace of mind that you are taking a long-term approach to protecting their employment and employees will also respect your honesty. However, make sure you’re operating fairly and consistently to ensure you are avoiding any discriminatory practices. 

There is also the option to embrace the fact that times are changing. Most bonuses are now calculated after the end of the financial year, meaning companies are more frequently distributing bonuses during the summer months.


2. Annual Leave over the Christmas period 

Offering employees the opportunity to take time off and recharge while ensuring business operations are not affected can be quite a challenge. Especially for businesses that tend to be busier during the Festive period, it is important to check the leave planner to ensure appropriate staffing levels. If your business provides services all year round, inclusive of bank holidays, you need to start letting your employees know when they will be working in order to avoid poor attendance over the festive period.

girls standing around a table elegantly drinking red wine and chatting

 What are your team 
plans for 2022?

Start looking at your team plan now, do not wait until the New Year. Do you have any new projects kicking off in January/February that may need new roles or extra staff? Do not underestimate the time it takes to recruit the best talent and always take into consideration notice periods. Prepare to kick-off the New Year by planning what roles you will be looking to recruit, and how you plan to do it. What’s more, Recruitment isn’t the only planning that needs to take place; speak to each team and department, and find out the following: 

  • What were the biggest challenges faced by employees and leaders in the previous year? 
  • What are the team / department / business goals for the coming year? 

To prevent the recurrence of past challenges as well as achieve future goals, your organisation must asses what training is required to take your employees to the next level.


4. Create an enjoyable and fun atmosphere in the workplace

Christmas is about great food, quality time with loved ones and taking time to relax. But what about the staff that will still be working during the festivities? 

Create a joyful atmosphere and ensure your staff are as relaxed as a “post-Christmas Santa”. A relaxed working environment can be one of the best parts of working over Christmas for many professionals. 

To do so use Christmas decorations, offer flexible working hours, have some festive fun, maybe host a team award ceremony or organise a Secret Santa amongst your employees – too much to think about? Check out this tool.


5. And don’t forget about the Christmas Party 

As we previously mentioned, Christmas parties can be fundamental in boosting engagement and instilling a sense of stability for your employees. So be pro-active and start planning. Remind your staff that office parties are meant to be fun social events but they also remain strictly business events. 

Businesses expect teams to behave appropriately but this is not always the case and you may have to deal with issues that arise. Even if your Christmas party is outside of working hours, your employees still need to behave in accordance with the company’s rules and procedures; consider introducing an alcohol policy that instils self-awareness and encourages appropriate behaviours.

If you are not going to be able to have a party this year don’t worry, but think about an alternative, in order to celebrate the end of this challenging year. Maybe a short excursion or virtual experience, Secret Santa or charity day. 

Make sure you embrace the spirit of the festivities whilst protecting your business. Our team of HR experts are at hand to ensure that you are prepared and protected for any HR headaches this Christmas.


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