‘Christmas’ Work Parties – Disaster waiting to happen?

So you think you have the party planned out; where, who and when… but is that enough? Have you ensured that you are catering for everyone fairly and that health and safety and misconduct issues have been prepared for in advance?

Christmas parties are to celebrate business success for the year and to thank employees for their hard work, aiding employee morale and bringing teams closer together. Therefore, it is important to ensure that everyone is included.

  • Food/Set Meal Plan: Have you considered the different possible dietary needs for employees’ beliefs/religion or medical requirements? (Providing suitable food for vegetarians, nut allergies etc.)
  • Theme, decoration and activities: Is the plan in good taste for everyone? (E.g. visiting a local pub for a ‘booze-up’ may not be suitable if some employees’ religion is against the consumption of alcohol).
  • Timing: Are all employees able to come? (Maybe consider employees’ family responsibilities and when they are expected in work).

Health and Safety responsibility:

The party needs to be remembered for the right reason; that awesome time out with the team, not the time that employee was involved in an accident, so health and safety is paramount.

  • Have you made sure that all employees (and any invited significant others) remember to drink in moderation so everyone can enjoy the night and not have the health and safety of themselves and others jeopardised.
  • Have you considered pre-booking a bus/taxi service to and from the venue to ensure the safety of the employees and help to avoid the possibility of any post-celebration drunk driving.

Employee Conduct & Brand Image:

Damage control is required to ensure that company image is protected and that employees conduct themselves appropriately at the party.

  • A dress code may be of use to encourage a greater team feeling for the celebrations and to ensure that clothing choices are not offensive.
  • Have you made sure all employees (and any invited significant others) know what is expected of their behaviour (and that poor behaviour may lead to disciplinary action) to ensure that they remember to act responsibly whilst partying. Make sure a harassment claim isn’t something that needs to be dealt with after all the fun.

Make the most of your work Christmas party and ensure it is a morale booster to bring the whole team closer together rather than a black mark and a waste of the company money… Do the extra preparation now, and enjoy the extra free morale boost of the holiday season!

Related Link

Human Resources Aid: Example pre-party memo, for all employees, to help cover necessary information (and behaviour warnings)

Blog: ‘Christmas’ Work Parties – Disaster waiting to happen?
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Change Management: HR Policy overcoming the emotional hurdles to success?

Change Management Image - Hurdles to Success

What is the point of change management? You see a way you can improve the company services/products/profits, and you make the change, simple? Or is it?

Change can have negative emotional repercussions, on both employees and customers, no matter how well intended the changes are. This is why it is important for HR policy to be involved with change, and why change needs to be managed carefully.

For employees, they may have felt comfortable with the services or products they had the ability to provide, with the knowledge and processes they were used to following. Now they have to learn new knowledge and/or processes, requiring more effort to reach the same level of competency at their given tasks as they were capable of previously. Employees need to be able to see that the extra effort they are making for the changes is worth it for them. To share in the vision that the changes are working towards improvement in their company, boosting pride in their work and their trust in the ability of management, rather than reducing their morale and productivity.

For customers, they may be a one off shopper, or one that has been using your company for years, as a reliable source for a service or product they require: If they are uninformed about the changes being made, and why, any inevitable delays or reduced service or product quality during the transition phase would be unexpected and intolerable, causing customers to be frustrated and annoyed. Customers would only see the negative impacts on their services/products as a change towards company incompetence, and would most certainly cause customers to rethink if they would continue using your company, or if they would forward this negativity to other potential customers!

Change management involves effective planning and communication; both before and after changes are implemented, to not only reduce the negative emotional hurdles described above but to overwrite the negative thoughts with positive thoughts towards the change and the company itself. Change management assesses the impacts against the positive gains of a change and then works to (as the song goes) ‘accentuate the positives’ and ‘eliminate the negatives’.

In this case accentuating the positives means building the case for the change, why it needs to be done, what the vision for the future is, and how the change will improve the company. The important part is how you manage that change for the good of all involved.

Eliminating the negatives is probably the more obvious task. It involves ensuring that all possible required resources (people, company ‘systems’, communication services, time/timing and training/education etc.) for a smooth transition are available, making sure any change laws are abided by and ensuring everyone knows how the change will work, where and when. It is important to remember to inform not only employees what is to be expected but suppliers and customers, where the changes may affect their dealings with you. This way any expected negative effects can be minimised, and any unavoidable negative effects can have plans in place to work around problems before they occur, minimising any annoyance and frustration during the transition.

Change is an important factor in any business – make yours a positive experience. Check out our factsheet: HR Policy: Change Management Check List for more detail on making the most of your company changes and overcoming the emotional hurdles to success, or contact Amanda for HR Consulting on the subject of change management at amanda@holgesconsulting.co.uk.

Improving Employee Morale: Do your employees know you value them?

employee reward pen

Just paying an employee for their work is not enough to ensure they continually give 100% commitment. If employees feel under-valued then employee morale will be lowered. Low employee morale causes slower, poorer quality productivity, more absence days and loss of experience, skills and knowledge if employees decide to leave for a job that makes them happier. Most companies know their employees are valuable but many don’t successfully show it.

Organising budget staff parties, ‘paper plate’ awards and pep-talks works on fixing the symptomatic unhappiness not the causes of low employee morale. These can temporarily boost morale for a few employees but can also cause extra issues too. Staff parties can cause friction with staff that would rather not spend free time with work colleagues, or who would prefer the money used to pay for bills. ‘Paper-plate’ awards; company logo pens, certificates and other generic prizes for overtime, exemplary work etc. back fire by showing little understanding of the real value of your employees. ‘Thanks for making the company thousands of pounds! To show our appreciation, here’s a pen!’

Successfully dealing with low employee morale is not ‘fixing employee unhappiness’, it’s about treating your employees in a way that shows you know how valuable they are: Valuing your employees for their skills, knowledge and expertise, working to use your employees full potential and showing appreciation with rewards as valuable to the employees as their work is to your company. Only by tackling the underlying issues that make employees feel under-valued can you ensure that low employee morale is turned around for all employees and for good.

  • Make your workplace a positive, enjoyable place to be
  • Give your employees job satisfaction and pride in their work
  • Show your employees ‘real’ appreciation for good work with rewards of value to them
  • Empower your employees by really listening to their ideas and acting on them
  • Help your employees reach their full potential by giving them opportunities to broaden and strengthen their knowledge and experience with ongoing training

All these steps work together to ensure your company treats your employees as the valuable assets they are– higher employee morale = more productivity! (and a much nicer atmosphere for everyone to work in).

For more information on ensuring that you are doing your best to keep your employees motivated and productive check out our factsheet: HR: Getting Employee Morale measures right!