Voices of our Nation

8 holiday issues in the workplace

T’is the season to be jolly, fa la la- la la, said no employer ever. The holiday season is where tough decisions at the workplace are at their highest. Holiday parties and holidays, in general, can be an opportunity for employers to improve workers morale such as using holiday bonus incentives. However, the holidays can also be a stressful time where efficiency goes out the window and employers need to have a handle on things and prepare accordingly.

It is that time of year where your office may do Secret Santa or simply exchange gifts with everyone in the office and it can be stressful picking out friendly but appropriate gifts. That is just the tip of the iceberg for employers as they typically will host either an office holiday party or take their employees out for lunch/dinner. As an employer, you hope that your employees know how to conduct themselves, but it is a good idea to make guidelines to ensure things don’t get out of hand. For example, employers could enforce a two-drink limit at a restaurant or simply have the party in the office where drinking would not be permitted. It is important to understand that office parties are not the same as getting together with friends. There may be similar elements such as uncomfortable flirtation or awkward tension between those who don’t see eye-to-eye. What is important for employees to remember is you are still representing the company and any misconduct, especially in public or within the office will reflect badly on you and your company.

Some issues that an employer needs to undertake and be prepared for are:

i) After the holiday party or lunch/dinner, making known to all employees that taxi services are available
ii) Drinking limits are strictly enforced (not allowing someone to give away their drinking ticket to someone else)
iii) Include all of your employees, invite everyone to lunch/ dinner or make sure everyone knows when the office party is so no one is excluded
iv) Have a budget set out for holiday parties and know what the company is able to spend
v) Include other religious holidays, Christmas becomes the dominant holiday while other religious occasions or beliefs are set aside
vi) Look out for sexual harassment, bullying, and aggression, especially when alcohol is in the mix
vii) Account for productivity and make it known amongst your employees what is expected of them before December hits. Not knowing how much work will get done may cost the company if shipments aren’t made in time or sale expectations weren’t met
viii) If an employer needs to fire an employee during the jolly month of December, it is good to try and stay in touch with your other employees. It may induce more stress on your employees if they think they will get fired as well.

It is important to know that there is a thin line between party and ‘partaay.’ Both the employers and employees must respect this line. Though holiday parties can be a lot of fun, we don’t want to see them get out of hand and end up costing the company in litigation fees.

This article was written by volunteer blogger Riya Prem Raaj and edited by volunteer editor Erin Murphy.

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