Ready for Christmas?

The trees are starting to go up and shopping is well under way, but has your HR team got all the necessary preparations in place? Christmas is, undoubtedly, a busy time for all, so it’s important that key considerations and workplace implications are not overlooked.  

Since Christmas falls on a Sunday this year, the Christmas Day Bank Holiday is due to take place on Tuesday 27 December 2022. As such, depending on contractual wording, employees may not be entitled to take Christmas Day off, or to receive enhanced rates typically associated with working bank holidays. This could cause upset amongst workers who are missing out on spending Christmas Day with their family and friends, and don’t receive any additional benefits or compensation for doing so. Whilst employers don’t have to provide extra, some may wish to consider other measures to motivate and incentivise staff, such as free meals and treats or an early finish. 

Annual leave in general is a common issue at Christmastime, with increased requests coming through from employees who want to enjoy the festivities. However, this year may see more requests than usual due to workers also wanting time off to watch the FIFA 2022 World Cup, which started on Sunday 20 November. A robust annual leave policy can set out an organisation’s stance on the process for submitting and approving requests, as well as any caps on the number of people who can be off at the same time. This being said, providing flexibility to increase normal caps or let staff arrive early/stay let to enable them to watch matches during the working day, can boost engagement and satisfaction, contributing to better retention and productivity rates.  

Should your employee’s preferred team win, they may be more inclined to go out and celebrate. This, alongside normal Christmas events, could lead to lateness, absenteeism and misconduct if not managed appropriately. Employers should pro-actively remind staff of expected standards of behaviour and ensure rules are enforced fairly and consistently.  

Some staff may not celebrate Christmas or find this time of year particularly difficult. As the cost-of-living crisis continues, others may also be concerned that they don’t have the finances to partake in workplace events, like a Secret Santa or dress-up day. As such, it’s important any initiatives are inclusive of all and don’t place undue pressure or distress on employees. Staff should never be forced to participate and, should someone be uncommonly subdued, it’s beneficial to check in to make sure they’re ok, and see if any support can be provided.   

In the spirit of inclusivity, employers should also ensure that their remote workforce is given the opportunity to participate in social activities and receive Christmas treats, to combat proximity bias. Training for managers may be necessary to avoid actions such as only letting in-office staff leave work early at Christmas or agreeing to provide a Christmas lunch. Doing so can cause remote workers to feel overlooked and isolated, which may lead to reduced engagement and higher turnover.  

The Christmas season always flies by, so employers should also be thinking about their goals and objectives for 2023, as it will be here before we know it! 

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