How to avoid post Christmas HR trauma

9th January 2017

HR TraumaChristmas is over. The decorations are down. And you’re left with a New Year headache dealing with all manner of staff matters and HR challenges. How do you deal with the HR trauma?

Okay, you got it wrong Christmas 2016. Alcohol fuelled events may have happened which you, and some of your employees, now regret. Time was lost, things were said and done, people were upset. Bridges need to be amended. If you haven’t a policy on what people should and shouldn’t do, then it’s time to cover your back in 2017.

Do you need a policy?

Seems a bit over the top, doesn’t it, but if you’re a small business, legislation could sink you very quickly in terms of lost time sorting things out, and financially adding cost to the business.

It is good practice to have several policies in place to protect your business, and no matter what size, a simple handbook that explains all to your employees.

Your duty of care towards your staff is ingrained in law, even if an event is outside of your normal working hours, and you may find that a fight off premises after your Christmas party could still be regarded as happening in the ‘course of employment’.

You’ll need to tread carefully when dealing with any incidents from drunkenness at a party, fights, and lateness and non-attendance the next day. If you don’t have the expertise in house you might want to seek advice. Claims of discrimination, harassment, and victimisation can all come out of the wood work in the New Year because of poor commun8ications on the matter. If you take the wrong action with an employee, they could claim unfair dismissal if you’ve been seen to target them over another employee.

Top things to have in an employee policy

  • Be clear on conduct – Highlight behaviour that would be inappropriate
  • Be clear on disciplinary matters.
  • Be clear on late attendance and non-attendance, and annual leave.

As a small business employer, of course you want to keep your employees happy. Good communication of policies or what may be acceptable, before an event, are just as important as having the policies themselves.