HR Blog: What has and hasn’t changed for the work Christmas party?

Are you hosting a staff Christmas party this year? After a compulsory virtual affair in 2020, and almost two years of pandemic related ifs and buts for events, a Christmas get-together could be just what’s needed to reunite your team.

If your workforce has been through some changes in the past couple of years, the annual staff do can be the perfect place to introduce new faces, whilst allowing others to reconnect over something other than work.

It’s also a good opportunity to thank your employees for their hard work, during what has been a challenging time for a lot of people.

It’s possible that this is the first staff social that you are organising in a while. If so, it’s best to be prepared as things are a little different this time around. You may receive some questions from employees on what to expect.

Six considerations for the workplace Christmas party planner

Whether it’s a festive soiree, a sit-down meal or drinks in the office, we have a few HR tips to make sure your event goes off without a hitch.

Go early, or late – Some businesses are opting to host their parties now or in January. It leaves enough space either side of Christmas for those concerned about visiting vulnerable family members. Avoiding peak party times can also make staff feel safer about attending.

Check venue accessibility – You may not have a vaccination policy in place, but your venue of choice might. If you’re organising a team get-together at an external venue, speak with them in advance about any COVID requirements for entry. At the same time, you can find out about disability access to make sure that everyone is able to attend if they wish.

You’ll also need to think about how staff will get to and from the venue safely. A work-related function is an extension of the workplace, and you still have a duty of care. Could you organise minibuses if public transport is not an option?

Risk assess the workplace – Alternatively, if you chose to host your staff party in the workplace, a risk assessment can help to keep everyone safe. People don’t typically stay at their desks during a party, so a risk assessment can highlight any adjustments that need to be made.

For added protection, you can make a negative lateral flow test a condition of attendance.

A menu for everyone – For food and drink, whether at a party or a sit-down meal, be sure to ask attendees for their dietary requirements and include some non-alcoholic options for those that don’t drink. For those that do, drinks vouchers can help to curtail over-consumption at the bar.

Make attendance voluntary – Whilst hosting a staff Christmas party is a wonderful gesture and you can try everything that you can to make it inclusive to all, there are some people who may prefer not to attend. If you are hosting your party at work, make sure that the time and space isn’t too disruptive for those who have opted out.

Set expectations – Some employees will have been eagerly awaiting this opportunity to celebrate the festive season with colleagues for two years. A few careful reminders about appropriateness may be required before the party gets started to ensure they don’t go overboard. So as always for work events, it’s a good idea to set expectations on acceptable behaviour and attendance the day after. For those wanting to let their hair down, requesting a day’s holiday isn’t a bad idea.

Christmas party alternatives

If you have decided against hosting a staff Christmas do this year but would still like to lift spirits and reward employees without breaking the bank, there are plenty of alternative options to consider.

Take it online – You’ve likely done it at least once before so will know what worked and what didn’t for a successful virtual staff party. Need some ideas? You could deliver party packs ahead of time, organise a virtual escape room, decorate gingerbread houses or dress up for a murder mystery!

A secret meeting – Book your team in for an afternoon meeting but keep the content a surprise. You could host an awards ceremony for your top performers, screen a popular Christmas movie with snacks or organise a fun game that can double up as training.

Team fundraising – Giving back to the community is a great way to bring people together and get in the Christmas spirit. Get your team onboard with fundraising by inviting their family members to join in on the fun.

Employee benefits – From well-being initiatives to shopping vouchers, employee rewards aren’t just for Christmas. If you’d like to learn more about suitable benefits for your team and how you can introduce them, get in touch today.