The combination of financial and legal uncertainty has cast a shadow over the traditional office party this year, with two out of five employers reportedly cutting back on plans for a festive bash this Christmas.
According to a survey of 2,532 company bosses by online restaurant booking service Table7, the spirit of Scrooge has resurfaced, with two out of five respondents reporting that they thought staff used Christmas parties to “drink the company out of cash”.
Advice for employers
• Have sensible policies in place that are publicised and enforced all year round
• Ensure that disciplinary policies entitle employers to take action in respect of misconduct that takes place outside of working hours
• Give staff a Christmas reminder of issues such as alcohol and harassment
• Ensure there is a variety of food and drink available
• Consider holding work events at other times of year, but make sure that they are unrelated to religious festivals
• Ensure no one feels offended or left out by the celebrations
• Consider health and safety: plan how staff can get home, especially in bad weather
The study also found one in five bosses stated paying for a Christmas event forced them to shuffle finances around in January in order to fork out for the bill.
But money isn't the only factor putting a dampener on party season. Disciplinary and discrimination problems are also a worry for company owners - as fans of our CEO blogger may remember from the infamous 2003 Christmas bash when the previous CEO's indiscretions torpedoed his marriage and set in train the boardroom changes that eventually took our man to the top.
In view of the financial and HR risks, perhaps business managers are right to be cautious. Our sister site HR Zone is a font of useful advice on these issues during the festive season. This year law firm Dundas and Wilson popped up with useful advice for business owners hosting a Christmas office party (see box).