‘Tis the season to be jolly and boy can it be a headache for many employers! Before December gets into full swing, it is well worth making sure you have planned for all of the seasonal eventualities, from alcohol to catching some Zzzs….
A – Alcohol! The rules are simple – enjoy, but not too much (see D, P & S!)!
B – Bank Holidays and employees’ entitlements. 5 things employers need to know courtesy of Personnel Today: Bank holidays: 5 things UK employers need to know. And similar advice for employers in Jersey from JACS: Bank holiday FAQs – Jersey
C – Communication. Clear and timely communications to employees about all of the key factors to a successful festive period at work are essential – from booking holidays and office closures to the social events policy and the Christmas party.
D – Disciplinaries for misconduct after the Christmas party (otherwise known as the ‘HR Hangover’!). If an incident or behaviour at a work-related event has an impact on the workplace or potentially damages the company’s reputation then you might find it necessary to discipline an employee for misconduct after the Christmas party…
E – Employment legislation. It doesn’t sound very festive, but it is important that employers are very clear on the aspects of employment law and HR policy that may become particularly prominent or risky in the run up to Christmas. To be honest, this is probably most aspects of employment law (!), but have a particular care to company policies, legislation and regulations that cover discrimination, disciplinaries and grievances, harassment, absence and sickness management and contracts of employment if recruiting extra staff.
F – Finance. Christmas is a hugely expensive time and many of your employees may be finding the financial pressures hard to cope with. Many businesses bring forward the last pay day of the year to before Christmas in order to ease this financial pressure. You could also consider paying bonuses, or part of them, before Christmas too.
G – Generosity. Don’t be seen as a Scrooge. Be as flexible and as understanding as you can afford to be towards staff needs over the Christmas period. Unless it really isn’t possible operationally, say ‘yes!’ to requests for time off to see kids’ nativities, visiting relatives or charitable volunteering. It will be in the company’s best interests in terms of morale and well-being.
H – Holiday. At what is often the busiest time of year for many businesses, employers are expected to juggle increased demands on production with increased demands for time off. Plan well ahead and make sure everyone is clear on your company holiday policy, and don’t leave yourself short-staffed at crunch times. Communicate clearly and well in advance company policy regarding shutting down the office over the Christmas period – especially if staff are required to take this time as holiday.
I – Inclusion. Christmas is traditionally a Christian festival and employees of other religions may not celebrate it. Be mindful and respectful of this, but do make sure that the festive period is still a fun and inclusive time for everyone. It is also important to make sure that you have a good awareness of Discrimination legislation and a positive company policy towards supporting the needs of employees of other religions too – for example, by allowing them to take holiday for their own religious festivals or by providing a quiet place for prayer at work.
J – Jogging and other exercise! Make time for exercise and encourage your employees too. Exercise is easily pushed to the bottom of the to do list when we are very busy and the evenings are dark and cold, but it is a great stress relief and mood-enhancer. Why not try to organise a team ‘Park Run’ (complete with festive hats) or bring in a yoga instructor for a weekly lunchtime session for interested employees?
K – Kindness. Remembering the true meaning of Christmas and taking the time to support charities as a company through organising or attending events and making donations (even if it is something as simple as an office Christmas bake-off or a Christmas Jumper Day) is a wonderful thing to do for local charities and for employee morale and well-being too.
L – Let go of non urgent deadlines. In order to ease the pressure on staff at a time of year when work is, for many businesses, even busier than usual, re-prioritise projects. Push back the deadlines of tasks that can wait until after Christmas.
M – Morale. See I, G, K, P and Y!
N – Nuisance travel disruption! This can be a particular problem over the Christmas holiday period with planned strike action and maintenance work on the railways in the UK, or bad weather disrupting air and sea ports. Consider offering employees flexibility, such as working from home or another location or making the time up at a later date.
O – Overtime. If the contract of employment includes a clause requiring an employee to work overtime when required, then it is usually reasonable to request and expect an employee to do so. Do have a care for Working Time Regulations though and make sure none of your employees are feeling over-worked.
P – Parties! By all means have fun, but do make sure staff are clear on company policy on Christmas parties and work-related social events. Perhaps issue a communication in advance of the party reminding everyone of conduct matters, including the dangers of excess alcohol consumption and appropriate behaviour.
Q – Quiet reflection. Amidst all the end of year hype and activity, make sure you and your employees find time to reflect back on the year gone by – the successes and the failures – so that you can take the learning and plan effectively for the year ahead.
R – Regret! If you or any of your employees are prone to really letting go at the Christmas party, you might all find the attached article c/o the Telegraph useful! How to have a good time at the Xmas party without regretting everything!
S – Social events policy. It really isn’t over-kill to have such a policy in place. As well as being good practice, employers have a duty of care towards employees and may be liable for acts of discrimination, harassment and victimisation carried out by individuals in their employ if they haven’t demonstrated that they took reasonable steps to prevent such acts.
T – Temps. Make sure you have thoroughly considered your resourcing needs over Christmas and organised temporary cover as required well in advance (it will be much harder to find good quality cover if you leave it to the last minute!). Make sure you are contracting and paying your temps properly (a temp may actually be considered to be a ‘worker’ in the eyes of the law and therefore be entitled to certain employment rights, such as the minimum wage and paid holiday).
U – Understanding. Showing understanding for the well-being of employees at what can actually be a stressful time of year for many is the right thing to do, but will also make a big difference to employee morale and productivity.
V – VERY bad dancing! It’s perhaps advisable for bosses not to emulate David Brent….. (see R!)
W – Well-being and sickness policies. Sickness and stress can both be rife in the run up to Christmas. Employers should be sympathetic to this and employ policies that support and promote employee well-being at all times of the year. During the Christmas period, an organisation’s usual sickness policy will apply and it should be managed fairly and consistently for all employees. This may include monitoring absence as per the policy, and any unauthorised absence or patterns of absence (‘morning after’ sick days?!) could result in disciplinary action.
X – X-rated photos and status updates on social media – in particular avoiding them! See D, P & S! As well as being mightily embarrassing for the individual snapped (as well as potentially career-limiting!) such forays into social media can be hugely damaging to a company’s reputation, especially if they are related to a company event. Do make sure your social media policy is well covered in your social events policy and related communications.
Y – Yuletide fun! Despite my entries for D and E, don’t be afraid to have fun at work! It’s what Christmas is all about!
Z – Zzzzs… After all the hard work and festivities, make sure you use the Christmas break to catch up on sleep and recharge your batteries ready for the new year….