11 December 2015 •

Christmas Party Time – Do’s & Don’ts

We are already knee-deep into the time of year we love and hate in equal measure: Christmas. Despite having sawn my ears off and glued my eyelids together (before writing this), past experience tells me a few things: the John Lewis advert complete with well-known song covered by a kooky-voiced starlet and overly sentimental message feels like it has been airing since March; every supermarket and shopping centre has been churning out Christmas anthems since Easter, and the office Christmas party season is well under way…

More than any other event, the office Christmas party has a wonderful habit of making even the most sedate characters lose all sense of reality and self-respect. We have all at some point witnessed Dave from accounts flooring Pete the sales rep, or Sheila from HR (that no-one even knew existed), cavorting on the dance floor with moves circa 1985.

As amusing as it can be for onlookers however, it is important to remember that the Christmas party is a work event, and as such certain standards of behaviour are expected of you or your employees. The last thing anyone wants to be doing is job-hunting in the new year, because (as tempting as it might be) they poured a glass of Prosecco over their boss’s head.

So here are my top five tips for employers and employees to avoid a Christmas party disaster:

  1. Remember they’re still your boss:

Don’t be fooled by your boss’s suddenly chilled-out, friendly manner. They might suddenly seem like your best buddy, but they will still be taking it in all around them. As tempting as it might be to tell them what you really think of them (especially if they’re a dictator), or how terribly underpaid you are given all you do, you’d be wise not to. Avoid conversations about work if you can, and keep the conversation light-hearted.

  1. Keep that libido in check:

Office relationships can have disastrous consequences at the best of times. Try and leave your beer goggles at home if at all possible. I know from experience that working relationships can be harmed following a moment of misjudgement; spending the New Year hiding in stock cupboards, or having to use the stairs instead of the lift all to avoid an awkward conversation can become exhausting!

  1. Button it:

Be careful what you say. A couple of years ago a Virgin Media employee was given the sack for gross misconduct following her behaviour at a work Christmas party. She had allegedly hurled racist abuse at one fellow female employee, called another ‘a whore’ and sexually harassed a male employee. All three filed complaints and following an investigation she was fired.

  1. Know your limits:

The law of diminishing returns is never better applied than to drinking alcohol. It might be hilarious to watch a colleague fall into a table, before decorating it with the remains of the meal they’ve just enjoyed; there’s always one, and remember that if you don’t know a person like that… it’s you…! My best advice for enjoying a good party is knowing when to leave; either that or take it elsewhere for last orders!

  1. Beware Social Media:

Not so long ago the memories of our misdemeanours would fade into obscurity, but not now. Crystal-clear digital HD images of our indiscretions can be uploaded in a few seconds, and retained for a lifetime. ‘It wasn’t me boss’ won’t carry much weight!

 

From an employer’s perspective you also have a certain sense of responsibility to your employees. Remember that they work hard for you (well most of the year at least…), and that they deserve to be treated and allowed to let their hair down. If you can, do it on a Friday (keeps the work cost of a hangover down to a minimum), and keep the bar an open tab until you leave (which is also useful to see who takes liberties with their triple vodka and Red Bull!). That extra few quid will go many more miles in return. In my experience, allowing partners to attend often helps to keep employees in check – though this isn’t always particularly popular!

Every business is all about the people, and this is the work event of the year. Keep it simple, keep it fun, and the rest will follow. Happy partying!


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"And so this is Christmas . . . what have you done?" - John Lennon

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