HR headache? Avoiding drama at the office holiday party

One in seven employees have shouted at their manager at a party

HR headache? Avoiding drama at the office holiday party

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – right? Well, maybe not quite. As the festive period rolls around, it’s time to start thinking about your holiday party plans – remote or otherwise. And while this can be a time of fun and frolics, it can also be a period unnecessary stress and anxiety – especially for HR leaders.

A recent report from Cartridge People found that one in seven employees have actually shouted at their manager at their office holiday party, while one in three have ‘embarrassed themselves’ with overindulgence. For HR, office parties can be trying – having to navigate a myriad of potential legal issues and colleague conflict. HRD spoke to Dr Melanie Peacock, professor of HR at Mount Royal University, who revealed the do and don’t of HR office party etiquette.

Don’t forget your DEI

Diversity and inclusion have become so important over this past year – and they should be present at your holiday party too. As Peacock advised, try to bring elements of DEI into your holiday party – allowing for all different types of beliefs and religions.

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“While holiday parties may be virtual, be sure to focus on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging by planning an event that respects different religions and preferences,” she told HRD. “To ensure this happens, it’s preferable to have a group of employees plan the party, as this will allow for a variety of perspectives. For example, don't assume that everyone will want to drink or eat the same type of food, if you send items via care packages before the event.”

Don’t be the ‘no fun police’

In HR, we’re constantly labelled as the ‘no fun police’ – telling people what they can and can’t do. In festive parties, it’s important to let your people have fun and relax – but it’s still a workplace setting – so rules do apply.  

“You may also want to consider the opportunity for employees to bring a guest or family members to the online event,” added Peacock. “Could this be done to create a form of recognition and thanks, while at the same time enhancing inclusivity? Also, remember, it’s a company event so proper conduct is still expected. While this doesn't mean being the "no fun police" it’s important to remind employees that while they’re interacting online, even at a social event, they must refrain from inappropriate behavior.”

Do be understanding – not pushy

“Additionally, be respectful of those who do not want to attend,” Dr Peacock told HRD. “Many employees don't enjoy the added stress of holiday party expectations, online or otherwise, during a busy time of the year. Employees must not feel punished or lesser for choosing not to attend an online company holiday party.”

How are you celebrating your holiday party this year? Tell us in the comments.

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