Surviving the Festive Frenzy: An HR Guide for Terrified Managers

‘Tis the season to be… absolutely terrified of HR mishaps? For managers, the Christmas period can be like walking through a winter wonderland filled with potential pitfalls. Parties, presents, and planning — oh my! Before you start imagining the HR department as the Grinch, here’s your survival guide to navigate the festive frenzy without slipping on the proverbial ice.

1. Know your rights (and wrongs)

First thing’s first: don’t accidentally become the office Scrooge. Brush up on those labor laws  and contracts to know who gets what during the holidays and what award rates are required on public holidays. A bit of homework now can save you from a Boxing Day blunder!

2. Plan like Santa’s watching

And he’s making a list. Whether you’ve been naughty or nice in your planning can mean the difference between smooth sailing and a Christmas catastrophe. Employees appreciate managers who let them know in advance about holiday schedules. It’s common for office workplaces to shut down over Christmas, however if you’re a business that doesn’t, provide plenty of notice of those who will be rostered on so they can make personal plans around it. 

3. The Christmas season is for everyone (yet for everyone, it’s not a celebration)

Not everyone dreams of a white Christmas, and it’s important to acknowledge that not every person may celebrate Christmas, or it might also be a particularly difficult time for them. So, when you’re decking the halls, make sure to be inclusive and respectful. Your Christmas party? Maybe it’s just an End Of Year Celebration. Elf hats or Santa? Of course, but let’s also respect and recognise those who have different celebrations.

4. Budget, budget, budget

Let’s face it, we’d all love to throw a party that rivals Gatsby’s soirees. But unless you’ve got a stash of gold coins at the North Pole, set a realistic and approved budget. You don’t want to explain to a business owner why you spent the entire year’s stationary budget on glitter, or find you’ve over-catered resulting in wastage or a blown budget.

5. Reflect, Review and Thank

Without too much focus on ‘shop talk’, the end of year is a perfect time to casually reflect on the year that’s been and to thank your team for their contributions. A little thanks goes a long way. A candy cane, a bonus, or words of acknowledgement can warm hearts more than a Christmas jumper.

6. Party hard, but party smart

Festive spirits are great. But intoxicated employees? Not so much. If alcohol’s on the menu, maybe help Rudolph out by arranging for some taxis and ensuring everyone is okay to get home safely. Also, nobody wants an unexpected trip to the hospital because they mistook a nut for a raisin. Ask employees about their dietary restrictions well ahead of the party. It’s less about the mince pies and more about showing you care and you’re wary of staff health and safety.

7. Have a Post-Party Pondering

Once the tinsel has settled, ask for feedback. Did the vegan options taste like cardboard? Was the music too “Last Christmas”? Knowing can help you plan a bash next year that’s even more smashing.

The festivities might be over, but January’s looming large. Take a moment (with a leftover cookie or two) to review, regroup, and recharge for the year ahead.

In conclusion, being a manager during the Christmas period might feel like guiding Santa’s sleigh through a snowstorm, but with a bit of wisdom and wit, you’re all set to ho-ho-hold onto your HR sanity. Cheers to a festive season that’s both merry and mishap-free!