The Do’s and Don’ts of the Office Christmas Party

The Do’s and Don’ts of the Office Christmas Party

The office Christmas party is the biggest event of the year in the work social calendar. It’s the opportunity show your employees your appreciation for their hard work throughout the year, and it’s the chance for your team to let their hair down and celebrate their achievements. It can also be a place where new friends are made as people get the chance to mix socially with others outside their immediate teams. But it can also be an HR nightmare! It’s often a time when frustrations that have been built up throughout the year are released, and the presence of alcohol can really fan the flames of any bad behaviour.

To help you plan the perfect, and problem free Christmas party, follow our simple ten step guide.

1. Don’t skimp. If you are going to throw a Christmas party, it’s important that it falls within budget, but it’s also vital that your employees feel that they are really appreciated. A good Christmas party can be an excellent retention tool, and also a way to demonstrate your company’s fantastic social culture. A few sausage rolls and an hour early finish is not going to cut it and may run the risk of having the opposite of effect, leaving your team with a bitterness that can last well into the new year.

2. Be personal. If your budget doesn’t stretch to lavish celebrations that’s fine. But try and give your event the personal touch by downing tools early and getting the whole team involved in games and light-hearted fun. Perhaps get each manager to personally acknowledge each of their team member’s achievements or share funny stories. Remember to take the opportunity to ensure your leadership team stand up and thank your employees for their hard work and reward them with a Christmas gift as a token of your appreciation.

3. Make sure everyone is invited. It’s so important to make sure everyone feels included in the celebrations so they feel appreciated. You may have employees on holiday at the time or on long term maternity leave, but they should be included none the less.

4. The party is a work related event. Treat it as such. The same rules you employ for all work events are just as relevant here and employees should be reminded of so. You should have a policy for work events that outline inappropriate behaviour such as aggression, lewd remarks, unwanted advances and misconduct. Employees should be aware that their actions could lead to disciplinary proceedings.

5. Allocate managers to monitor alcohol consumption. There may be some employees who take the free bar too far. Ensuring you have some managers on the lookout for any excess will allow you to keep control of consumption and prevent alcohol-related problems before they arise.

6. Make sure your party is inclusive. You should make sure all your staff feel welcome. Perhaps some do not drink, or others do not celebrate Christmas at all. Make sure you think about these members of staff as taking the time to consider their needs will make them feel truly appreciated and included in the celebrations.

7. Investigate and take action. In the unfortunate event that someone oversteps the mark at your party, it is your duty as an employer to investigate the situation and take action. Just because it is the Christmas party does not mean it’s a free for all for antisocial behaviour and you have a responsibility to the rest of your team to ensure any misconduct is dealt with in line with your disciplinary policies.

8. Office romances. Love can often blossom between employees at the Christmas party. In a recent survey, 55% of people admitted to a festive kiss with another employee. Perhaps it’s all that mistletoe! Be clear on your stance on office relationships. If you require them to be disclosed, make that known and take action if necessary.

9. Be careful of social media. Social media can be an excellent way of demonstrating your company’s amazing culture by sharing photos and updates from your party. On the flipside, it’s important to have control over what is shared. Inappropriate photos can damage your reputation. Also, some employees may have grievances with their embarrassing photos being shared online. Ensure you have a carefully considered social media policy in your business to protect yourself and your staff.

10. Deal with staff absences. If your Christmas party falls on a weekday, it’s no surprise that you may find yourself with surprising numbers of absences the next day. Your teams should be reminded that the following day is just like any other work day and that they will be expected to act professionally and arrive on time. Use your HR team to deal with any unauthorised absences.

By following these simple rules, your employees should leave your Christmas party full of festive spirit, without leaving any nasty HR headaches for you to deal with. For further advice on dealing with HR concerns during the Christmas period contact us on 0330 555 1139 or by email at hello@crossehr.co.uk.

Christmas in the Workplace: A How to Guide

Christmas in the Workplace: A How to Guide

Christmas can be a real headache for business owners. There is a range of HR issues that can be troublesome, from granting holidays to the receipt of gifts and much more in between. In this blog post, we explain some of the issues you may face and provide tips on how to deal with them.

Holidays

Even if you have meticulously planned the Christmas holiday rota, you are bound to have an issue around ¬holidays. Because Christmas and New Year often fall on weekdays, there will always be someone who wants the same day off as somebody else. Plus, most people want to maximise their time off over Christmas by booking holiday between bank holidays. You can’t let everyone take time off, it will cripple your business. No one has the right to a paid holiday without your agreement, but at the same time you must comply with employment law regulations and be sensitive to the fact that Christmas is a family time and your employees will want to spend as much time as possible with family. You must not discriminate between those with families and those without and deal with all holiday requests in a fair and objective manner.

Bonuses

Christmas bonuses are often a controversial issue. Some employees feel it is their right to receive a Christmas bonus and are disappointed or feel unappreciated if they don’t. But unless Christmas bonuses are written into employee contracts you are not obliged to pay them. In these troubled financial times, many businesses do not have the budget for non-contractual bonuses and you should not feel obliged to do pay them, just because you have done in the past. If historically you have paid bonuses, but this year you decide you cannot afford it, that’s perfectly acceptable. But it’s important to be open and honest with your employees as there may naturally be an expectation that a bonus is on its way.

Half Days

Many firms close early on Christmas eve. There is often no need to enforce employees to work a full day as business has ceased trading and employees are no longer motivated to work due to the holiday spirit. Some firms will give employees this extra half day on top of their holiday entitlement as a gesture of goodwill, but if you require them to book this time off using their annual leave you must notify them in advance.

If you are going to let staff go home early, let them know. It can sometimes be de-motivational to leave them hanging.

Planned Shut Downs

Many businesses shut down over the Christmas period and require their employees to use some of their holidays during this period. It must be written into their contracts if this is the case. If an employee doesn’t want to take this time off, but you are planning on shutting the business down, you can legally enforce holiday but must comply with employment law by giving them due notice.

Christmas Gifts

Sometimes suppliers and customers will send Christmas gifts. Have a policy on what is acceptable to ensure you don’t fall foul of bribery rules. You may encourage staff to share gifts between the team but remember that if you do not have a written policy, they are not obliged to do so.

Dress Code

Christmas is a time when most employees like to get in the spirit and you may decide to relax your dress policy by giving them the chance to dress down or even get festive with Christmas jumpers. It is important to respect those who do not celebrate Christmas and ensure any communications around dress acknowledge that it is optional. You may also wish to outline what clothing is deemed unacceptable to ensure it doesn’t go too far. You don’t want to risk causing offence to other employees or risk appearing non-professional to customers.

Christmas Parties

The Christmas party is an issue that requires much more than a paragraph. For a 10 step guide to ensuring your Christmas party goes without a hitch, read our latest blog, The Dos and Don’ts of the Office Christmas Party.

For further advice on dealing with HR concerns during the Christmas period contact us on 0330 555 1139 or by email at hello@crossehr.co.uk.

Time to hire your first member of staff

Time to hire your first member of staff

Yippee, you are doing well, its time to stop using family and friends and calling in favours and take that very grown up step of hiring your very first member of staff.

Firstly, well done, thats quite an achievement, feel very very proud.

Secondly, you are petrified right, well this blog post will hopefully calm things down. Now down to business.

The job description & person specification

  1. Think about what you want them to do, and write that down, forget job titles at this stage, just think job content.
  2. Think about what kind of person in terms of attributes, experience and qualifications (and be reasonable, I’ve come across 2 man bands operating from their front rooms wanting Oxbridge graduates, to do admin)
  3. Research similar roles and no harm in having a nosey at what your competitors are doing (if it ain’t broke etc), this gives you some pointers to setting a salary
  4. Once you have an idea of the salaries the competition are paying, you need to figure out if you can afford it, always remember you need to add another 30% plus in on costs to cover Employers NI (12% of total salary), pension (more of which later), their work environment, other benefits etc
  5. You are now ready to draw up a job description (which describes the role) and a person specification (which describes the attributes at a minimum a person must have to be suitable).
  6. Decide where you are going to find them, i.e. LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, websites, agencies, print media
  7. Draft an ad for the job
  8. Its always worth thinking about at this stage where you are actually going to put them, do you need to buy a desk, hire office space even, computers cost how much?

The interview

They’ve started to apply. Wow another milestone passed, people are interested and want to work for you, nervous yet?

  • Work out in advance  of the interview what you want to learn from them
  • Do you just want to have a one on one interview and deal with it all in one go
  • Do you want a demonstration of their work presentation style
  • Do you want someone else’s opinion
  • Prepare well in advance, draft questions, give enough time per person (there is nothing worse that candidates bumping into one another in the corridor or reception.
  • You’ve decided you’ve found the one!
  • You need out of politeness to let the others down gently, you never know when you’ll bump into them again, so be nice.

You found THE ONE

(now the real fun starts)

  • You need to offer them the job (provisionally usually), apply for references, make sure you have employers liability insurance (up to 5 million at least). Look at the partnership tab on this website which will help you.
  • Give them written particulars which at a minimum should contain salary, pension arrangements, start and finish (where applicable), place of work, date of pay, where they are based, disciplinary and grievance processes, termination and leaving, probation, any benefits, confidentiality etc. If you don’t do this within 28 days of them starting well you have been told!
  • Why not think about including a staff handbook (give us a call) and HR policies & procedures (again you know where we are) and you are covered.
  • So references, qualifications all check out, terms are agreed and a start date sorted

Before they start

You need to think about a probation period, how you are going to pay them (we can point you to some brilliant payroll providers and accountants), what sort of induction (please have one) process you are going to have.

You are pretty much now ready to welcome your first employee. Good luck and well done, the second time is always easier.

You are on your way.

Contracts – takes all sorts

Contracts – takes all sorts

Tis the season where some of you will be thinking about hiring additional staff to cope with the Christmas demand with the key word being flexibility. These are the types of contracts you may wish to consider: –

Fixed Term

Its exactly that, its exactly the same as a permanent contract along all the benefits and entitlements that come with it, including holiday and benefits, except this contract has a specific end date. This might not be the best fit for an organisation who needs staff for just the Christmas period, but its certainly worth considering.

Casual

You have the work, you offer the work to a person and they have the option to either take it or leave it. They get paid for the work they do for you. The obligations stop when they finish work that day/evening. Its usually used to cope with spikes in business such as Christmas. The downside here is the person is under no obligation to accept the work, and with the demand for staff over Christmas, it might leave you in a difficult position, as others will also be offering work.

Zero Hours

Much maligned and talked about usually not in a good way, but they have their benefits. Similar is a way to casual contracts with one key difference, the contract is ongoing and does not stop when the person leaves their work or shifts despite them only getting paid for the work they do. Since the brouhaha during the summer concerning zero hours contracts, changes are afoot particularly in relation to exclusivity clauses. As an employer you need to determine how you deal with someone on such a contract who turns work down. Zero hours are really useful in my opinion for the Christmas period, as the employer has the security of knowing they have a ready bank of staff to call on.

Temporary

These are employed usually through an agency, sometimes directly and are paid hourly. If they come through an agency, they are the responsibility of the agency legally. The agency then charges the employer a fixed hourly fee which includes the temps wages, holiday pay and entitlements together with the agency mark up fee. Temps are only paid by the agency for the hours worked and upon receipt of a signed timesheet. Very common and very useful for peaks in demand with all of the administrative burden placed on the agency.

Self employed – for services

These types of arrangements are very common in the courier industry (think Yodel), where to cope with peaks in demand self employed couriers and van drivers are hired on a self employed basis. The employer has no legal obligation towards them in terms of employment law as they have no employee status. They are usually paid upon receipt of an invoice.

Other options to think about

  • Offering overtime to existing permanent members of staff whether full time or part time
  • Offer flexitime which allows employees to ‘bank’ extra hours and take the accrued days at a later date.
  • Offer time off in lieu over an above hours worked at a later date

You will need to ensure you comply with employment legislation when taking on any staff for any length of time regardless of the status of their employment. Thats why its essential to get a written agreement in place which Crosse HR can help you with.

 

When the past should remain just that!

When the past should remain just that!

I’m a bit baffled about this current palaver concerning the Queen when she was a 7 YR OLD CHILD larking about in her garden with her family giving what looks like a Nazi salute. My first reaction was who cares it was over 80 years ago and a lot has happened since, my second reaction was, are there not more pressing issues to be getting het up about such as ISIS, housing shortages and Greece, my third was a feeling that in no shape manner or form did the woman she became, support no more than the rest of us what went on in Europe during the second world war, my fourth reaction was, but she was only a child – a 7 year old child, we’ve all done many a thing as children and indeed as adults that you’d prefer you didn’t and if you had your time again you certainly wouldn’t, thats life.

It got me thinking about that fourth point. I have mentored quite a few young people over the years to help them get places on apprenticeship schemes, internships, jobs and places at college. A lot of these young people have records, some serious, others not so, but records they certainly have. Every single one of them occurred when they were under the age of 16, every single one. So, can you imagine, how they feel a few short years later when they are desperately trying to improve their lives and get a job, and a mobile phone contract they reneged on at 14 comes back to haunt them (btw you cannot get a contract of employment until you are 16, so it is beyond my comprehension why mobile phone companies allow 14 year olds to enter into mobile phone ones, and then are surprised when nothing gets paid but that is for another day), that lipstick they shoplifted from Boots where they got that caution, that parcel they delivered for a gang that did not contain an educational book, yup all on record, stuff they did (which they shouldn’t ) staring straight back at them telling the world not to give them a chance, all because when they were silly impressionable children with or without decent adult guidance they did something foolish. Thankfully, there are some amazing organisations out there more than willing to do the decent thing and give young people a chance.

All of us have done plenty of dodgy, and silly things (one friend of mine at 12 set fire to a field and to this day regrets it bitterly, another one crashed his Dad’s car into a fence at 13 and barely drives since), its called growing up. Some of us had the wits not to get caught and if we did, we had the parental support and funds to make sure it did not tarnish us for the rest of our lives. A quick dollop of punishment (in my case a good hiding), a humiliating apology (to the perceived victim), a loss of freedom or sweets, and it being brought up at every family event since usually did the trick and we moved on, but what about those kids who don’t have that. Should something you do as a child or young adult be allowed to taint your life as you try to move forward for the rest of it?

As employers I firmly believe we should do our best to look forward not backwards, get the facts and make a decent judgement call to give someone a chance, should you be faced with a similar situation. There is nothing finer and more noble than giving someone a decent start and chance when everything and everyone is telling you not to. It usually works out too and that cycle is broken, they will not have their kids behaving like that I’ll bet.

The Queen has dedicated her life to public service, I bet sometimes cutting a ribbon, being paraded out around Horseguards every year watching the same old marching bands or listening to yet another foreign dignatory drone on she wishes she hadn’t, what happened at 7, 11, 13, 15 or 16 should in no way diminish what fantastic adults and what great contributions most of us contribute to society, give or take the odd dodgy thing we might have done when we knew no better, and be grateful someone gave us all a chance.