Four tips for creating an inclusive workplace Christmas party

  • Equality & Diversity
christmas tree and guests in background
Alan Price - Peninsula's Chief Operations Officer and CEO of BrightHR

Alan Price, Chief Operations Officer

(Last updated )

Now we’re into the Christmas season, the work party committee is probably already hard at work prepping for the big festive extravaganza.

The workplace Christmas party is a hugely anticipated event. But while festive fun is highly anticipated, so is – quite often - the heavy drinking.

And without sounding like a Scrooge, it’s important to make sure your Christmas party is a safe and fun space for all employees. It shouldn’t exclude anyone, nor should it make anyone feel pressured to do something they’re not comfortable with.

So to help you plan an inclusive festive do for your staff this Christmas, here are some expert tips:

Be considerate of employees who choose not to drink

According to a survey by YouGov, 53% of employees said they would like there to be less pressure on them to drink alcohol at work events.

And while other employees might enjoy having a drink on the work social, it’s important to be considerate of those who choose not to. Whether that’s out of personal preference or because they’re recovering from alcohol abuse, it’s not necessary to know the reason or to ask questions.

But it is necessary to provide lots of non-alcoholic options. So if you’re providing festive-themed alcoholic beverages, make sure to offer a selection of non-alcoholic versions too.

And remind employees to be respectful of their colleague’s decision not to drink too. No one should feel peer-pressured into drinking. Reminding staff of your standards of appropriate behaviour will help reduce the risk of employees acting out of line.

After all, your Christmas party may be out of work hours but it’s still a work event. So, your employees should be mindful that they are representing your business. So, they should act as such and understand that you will not tolerate rowdy and inappropriate antics. And if they do behave in such a way, you reserve the right to take disciplinary action.

Be aware of religious differences

You should bear in mind that not everyone celebrates Christmas in the same way.

You may have employees of different faiths and cultures. So, it’s important not to make assumptions. You may even have employees who don’t celebrate Christmas.

Be careful not to impose any Christian-traditional rituals and activities on employees who may not observe. You should also be mindful and give space to employees to express their own Christmas traditions.

It might be seen as religious discrimination if it looks like you’re putting Christian traditions above the traditions of other faiths. So, be mindful of this when you’re planning your decorations and food options. Employees of certain religious faiths may not be able to eat some types of meats and have specific dietary restrictions.

It’s a good idea to encourage your staff to share their own holiday traditions with the team. This will help ensure that those employees don’t feel excluded. Whether that be bringing in food or sharing their traditions. Doing this can also help bring the team closer together.

You may also need to consider the date of your Christmas party and whether this might fall on a day of religious holiday for some employees.

Think about where you’re having the party

If you’re considering a venue outside of your workplace, it’s important to ask:

  • Is your venue accessible?
  • Will there be loud music and flashing lights?

For some employees who are sensitive to loud sounds and flashes of light, this might be a Health & Safety hazard. And if you have any employees with access needs, it’s important to make sure the venue has a functioning lift and is accessible for wheelchair users.

You should make sure you understand the layout of your venue. You should be able to direct staff to disabled toilet facilities. Point out any quiet rooms (where employees can go to have a breather if they’re feeling overwhelmed).

You should also make sure everyone knows how to safely exit the building in the event of an emergency evacuation. And, check that parking and transport links are within a reasonable distance too.

Think of your remote workers (if you have any)

Many companies now offer flexible working to their staff (and requests for flexible working are likely to soon become a day one right). If you do have employees who work remotely, you should make sure they have the same opportunity to join in the festive fun. You may have staff who work far away, so an in-person event doesn’t really work for them.

You may have employees that live far and work far away. So, you may want to consider sending out information about travel and accommodation arrangements. You could also always arrange to have a virtual Christmas party too. Maybe a Christmas quiz via Zoom? You could do a variety of online games for the team to get involved in.

And if you’re doing any gift-giving, make sure your remote staff have an opportunity to get involved. Just because they’re not there in person doesn’t mean they can’t take part in your workplace ‘Secret Santa’. With the right organisation, you can make sure your remote workers aren’t left out and they can still open up a present from a colleague too.

Safe-proof your business this Christmas

The festive season is supposed to be a time for joy. However, even an innocent act of gift-giving or decorating could open your business up to serious HR and Health & Safety risks.

So to make sure you’re prepared this winter, you may find our following resources useful:

And if you’d like any specific advice to help you manage the Christmas period, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Just tap below to speak to an adviser today for free.

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