People & Human Resources

NEW: Michael Phillips

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The Christmas party is not just a chance to have a drink or three. Make it a time to wrap up the year on a good note.

Tis the season to get jolly

Michael Phillips

December is a funny month to work. For those that drive it is far less painful to get to the office, and those on a train might even get a seat. Lunches also are a bit different as they tend to drag on a bit and can often blend into dinner. But for me, the most notable thing for December is the infamous office Christmas party.

The Christmas party is a chance for staff to unwind and for bosses to show their appreciation for a hard year’s work. The only problem here is that often staff unwind so much the Christmas party turns into a night at “schoolies”, while bosses spend their time trying to avoid difficult questions from drunk employees.

I’ve had Christmas parties in the corporate environment and these often ended up resembling a scene from Revenge of the Nerds. You had the “jocks” drinking themselves to a stupor, the “nerds” attempting to use Pythagoras’s theorem to attract females, and the party area looking like a war zone after half an hour.

Small to medium sized businesses, on the other hand, tend to have Christmas parties that are more like a family affair. You’ve got the parents, the kids and the alcoholic uncle who corners you every time you go to refill. But in my experience it’s these parties that offer the best result as everyone is happy in their little “family”. Gran (office manager) squeezes your cheeks, dad (boss) falls asleep after the meal and the kids (Gen-Y) wait for dad to fall asleep before sampling the whisky cabinet.

There are some unwritten rules to Christmas parties; most people know them, but I thought it would be an opportune time to get them down on “paper” and into your mind before the Christmas punch kicks in.

Rules for employees:

  • Drink and drink hard (read – “responsibly”) as you don’t want to be the teetotaller of the office and even worse, have to be the designated driver for your inebriated work colleagues.
  • Whatever happens you must show up at work the next day, or if the party is on Friday, then see you on Monday. Bosses hold more respect for a person who is sitting at their desk grimacing and using bulldog clips to hold their eyelids open than an empty desk and a lame excuse of a migraine justifying their “sick” day.
  • Fraternising among staff is generally acceptable among singles of the same employment level. Secretaries and bosses are a no-no!
  • Don’t discuss work – nothing to explain here, just don’t do it; it will show your inability to have a life other than work.

Rules for bosses:

  • Don’t be tight. You don’t need to dish out foie grais and helicopter rides, but this is a chance to thank your staff, so make an effort. A BBQ out the back of the office with BYO sausages, drinks, plates and cutlery isn’t going to send anyone on their Christmas break feeling good about the New Year.
  • Keep your hands to yourself, regardless of what happens and how many drinks you consume; the only result is a disaster.
  • Make a speech that focuses on how good the culture is and that without the people the business would be bankrupt. Make sure employees leave feeling good about themselves and excited about the future.
  • Don’t be first to leave, but leave with enough time that you don’t have to deal with the dregs (“drunk uncle” or over confident Gen-Y looking for a promotion).

Above all, Christmas is a wonderful time for most people and the office Christmas party is a chance to warm yourself up for the festive season. So, armed with your rules in hand, enjoy yourself and just remember – you’ve worked hard this year and you should kick up your heels.

But don’t forget a year’s hard work can be undone in a night.


For more Managing Gen-Y blogs, click here.



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