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Five of the most common issues that employers face at Christmas

Christmas is one of the most difficult times of the year for employers due to seasonally-specific issues

Here we cover five of these issues, along with basic tips for coping with them.

For some, December is spent counting the days until Christmas break. For employers, however, the festive season can trigger problems that can have a negative effect on their business. With a little planning, these can be either avoided or skilfully managed this Christmas season.

Company and personal holidays

Some businesses close for a set time at Christmas, while others decide this year by year. Some staff must use their holiday allowance for all days off, while others have them as extras. Whatever your policy, make sure your staff know about it as early as possible to enable them to plan ahead.

Dress code

Business owners may designate a casual and/or Christmas-themed dress code, allowing staff to wear Christmas jumpers, crazy costumes or less dressy everyday clothes for anything from a few hours to several days. This is usually fun, but avoid potential problems by being sensitive to those who do not celebrate Christmas, or those who do not wish to participate, by making it clear that the dress code is optional.

Gift giving

Christmas is the season to be jolly, and often to be generous. Past and current clients, sales reps and other business contacts are quite likely to bring or send gifts to businesses or to particular members of staff as a way to say thank you or cultivate future deals. Having clear guidelines in place regarding how to deal with gifts given in this way is vital to ensure integrity is maintained.

A fair policy would be to allow low-value gifts given as a sign of appreciation, such as chocolates or toiletry gift sets, to be accepted without any concern, while more substantial or expensive goods or anything given with even a hint of an agenda attached should be mentioned to a supervisor.

It may also be worth developing a clear policy on how gifts should be handled; for example, should a tin of biscuits be shared if it represents thanks for work done by a department but was gifted to the client’s main contact? Although this may seem to be a minor issue, such things can easily cause resentment and lead to bigger issues down the line.

The office Christmas party

On the one hand, this is a fantastic chance to build team bonds and strengthen relationships with colleagues; on the other, it can spark violence, bullying, sexual harassment, alcohol-fuelled arguments and more.

Clearly announcing that professional standards of dress and behaviour are expected should help to avoid such issues, as will providing food, water and soft drinks along with alcohol. Be prepared for some level of staff sickness the following day and consider designating a later start than usual, which may avoid some absenteeism.

Unpredictable weather

Our climate means it is easy to be caught out by sudden snow or raging storms, making commutes to and from work either much longer or completely impossible. With a clear policy on how such weather conditions will affect work in place, everyone will be on the same page of the action plan.

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