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The Office Christmas Party: The HR Department And Events Management Working As One?

The highlight of the working year: this is how some people regard the company Christmas celebration. From a HR perspective though, is this often-notorious fixture more trouble than it’s worth?

Christmas: the time to step up a gear

Christmas becomes a reality at work at lot earlier than it does at home. As we speak, office juniors are being sent into the company store cupboard to hunt out those bags of decorations.

The stress of a fun-filled Christmas party!

Is there anything to be said for shelving the whole idea of the Christmas party? At home, Christmas (in theory at least) is all about having fun with the family.

At work, it’s often the most crucial – and stressful – times of the year. In many sectors, whether or not the company has a good Christmas can mean the difference between survival and failure. Did you know, for instance, that in the US alone, the retail industry generated about three trillion dollars in the 2012 holidays season? That’s a staggering 19.3 per cent of the retail industry sales for the year!

Christmas sales spike

The importance of Christmas in the retail sales calendar

Christmas is a crucial time for the tourism, events management and hospitality sectors as well. After all, this is the time when an awful lot of us are on the move and are ready to spend money – whether it’s season-specific activities such as visiting Christmas markets, going to the sales or visiting friends and family – or more general social activities.

The famous Christmas market in St Petersberg

A Family Time? Really?

In the UK, the English Tourist Board (Visit England, carried out a survey just before the 2012 holiday season to determine how people planned to spend their Christmas. It seems that although more than 70% of the country are looking forward to spending time with their families, the next most popular festive activity is shopping in the ‘sales’ – and that’s not taking any account of all the pre-Christmas spend on presents and food.

Sure, in some sectors such as financial services and real estate, things tend to go quiet at this time of year. That’s not to say that there’s little or no demand for B2B (Business to Business) services though. If you’re in the tech field, what happens if one of your retail client’s sites goes down in the run-up to their last online order date? A huge business issue!

This is the time when a lot of us need to be at the top of our game. Should huge celebrations – with the associated risks of two-day hangovers, embarrassing confrontations and ill-advised office liaisons be put off until, say, March time?

The HR perspective: why Christmas parties are something to be wary of

If you’re serious about a career in human resources, you’ll find that your online Human Resources Diploma will have equiped you with the tools you need to operate effectively in the workplace. What better arena to put those skills into practice than at the annual company get-together?

If you’re unfamiliar with what goes on at them, here’s a snapshot for you to consider:

What to expect at an average office Christmas party ...

What to expect at an average office Christmas party …

 Are Christmas parties the best type of pat-on-the-back for employees?

There’s more to life than money. As part of an HR course, and throughout your career, you’ll learn that there are ways of motivating and rewarding staff that are equally – and sometimes even more – effective than a simple increase in salary. Do lavish Christmas parties fall into this category?

The evidence seems to suggest Christmas parties weathered the storm of the recession. Conference News earlier this year was reporting that lavish events seem to be on the increase after a lull in previous years. The event planning company, Evolve was reporting a 12 per cent increase on bookings compared to the previous year. Though there was also a steady rise in companies seeking to hold their annual bash in January!

What should be avoided?

Not everyone has the same idea of ‘fun’. When learning about the subtle art of Human Resources Management, you’ll find out that taking into account diversity isn’t just a legal requirement in a lot of countries, it’s a vital part of ensuring that the workforce flourishes.

Care needs to be taken when choosing the right type of venue and theme. For various social, cultural, religious (and sheer taste!) reasons, the idea of an alcohol-fuelled raucous event might be the exact opposite of ‘inclusive’. How about a theatre trip or a ‘casino’ evening? The trick is to get away from alcohol as the sole focus. The old Roman saying in vino veritas (‘in wine there is truth’) is as true today as it always was …

Alcohol and Christmas parties can have lasting effects

How will team dynamics be affected?

A good HR department will work hard at helping to foster a strong team. The problem with ‘letting your hair down’ is that all too often employees are tempted to say what they really feel. It only takes a few drinks for simmering discontentment to turn into open hostility! Even worse, harmless mutual flirtation could turn into something a little more full-on. These things very often can’t be helped. From a business point of view, the danger is that particular teams can no longer work effectively with each other after a traditional office Christmas party …

Top tips for a Christmas party

Top tips for a Christmas party

It’s not all doom and gloom

A content workforce will relish the opportunity to enjoy themselves – and will no doubt thank you for it. In fact, how does the whole idea of specialising in organizing corporate entertainment sound? Check out our events management diploma to find out more.

What are you experiences of office Christmas parties? We’d love to know!

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