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.

7 Free Marketing Tools for Start-ups

7 Free Marketing Tools for Start-ups

Starting a business on a shoe string often means marketing falls further and further down the list of priorities, however what many forget is that when it comes to marketing you really can get something for nothing. There are multiple ways to get your name and brand out there with a marketing budget of £0.

1. Social Media

So perhaps the most obvious of all is social media and everyone is using it, however there are some lesser known features of Facebook and Twitter that many business neglect to use. The first of these features is TweetDeck the feature allows you to make the most of twitter by scheduling tweets, gaining industry insights and measuring your engagement. This will keep you constantly engaging with your followers and make sure you are getting your brand in front of potential clients at strategic times of the day.

Crosse HR Marketing Tips for Startups

2. Articles

Many start-ups will be sent requests by budding journalists for interviews. It’s easy to overlook these especially with the schedule of the average entrepreneur, however these can be worth more than you know even with little known blogs, websites or news outlets. Giving short interviews or typing up a quick email will help to increase your web presence and google rankings, and you never know the traction these outlets might gain in the future. If you haven’t had any requests then actively seek interviews and start small and specific in doing so. The big names in media are likely to move your emails directly into the bin but the smaller outlets are always looking for something unique and quirky. Have a Google and find out who is talking about the things your business does and send a pitch. The Huffington Post is a great site with a huge readership, they love small business and often approve blog posts as long as you have something new and different to talk about, submit an idea.

3. Peek 

Whilst not a direct form of marketing Peek is a free tool which helps to see what users think of your website. Fill in the form on the peek website and your website will be user tested for free! the testing is done by real people and you will be provided with a video of the users experience outlining the best features and features which need improvement.

4. Newsletter/Email insights

Having a monthly newsletter can help to build loyalty and gain followers and connections on your social media profiles. There a number of free tools which allow you to not only create a newsletter but also measures how many users open the email and how they interact with the content and links. One such application is IContact., this application allows you to send monthly newsletters to up to 500 contacts. Another great tool is Sidekick, this application gives insight into how your ordinary emails are interacted with; it tells you when an email is opened, how long it was viewed for and shows you their social media profiles with the same email address. Another great feature is that you are able to schedule emails strategically meaning you will be at the top of that hot lead’s inbox at the right time of the day.

A simple guide to PR for startups

5. Blogging/Medium 

Having a blog will help to build an image of your company and the best tool to do this with is Medium. The blogging site comes with an inbuilt audience and the networking tools will help your content spread across multiple media outlets. The audience is made up of bloggers, journalists and social media savy entrepreneurs. It combines all the best features of a social network and the design features of a powerful blogging system to create a painless way of getting your brand out there.

6. Youtube 

Many businesses have been slow to adopt video marketing as part of their campaign however it’s power should not be underestimated. Creating videos about your business is a great way to create a real connection with your audience and doesn’t have to be a glossy advert. Having a weekly vlog which is warm, funny and engaging is a great way to turn views into sales. The advent of youtube means the cost of video marketing has fallen dramatically and the user base speaks for itself. If your videos gain subscribers users will be presented with your videos every time you upload them.

7. SEO/HotJar

Making sure your website is search engine optimised is essential for any business, it will make sure you show up is search results and will guide you through making sure your content is relevant and easy to read. The best tool for this is HotJar, the WordPress plugin integrates seamlessly into your dashboard and will test all your content for search engine compatibility. HotJar is one of the most powerful tools available as it measures how your users are interacting with your content; what they are reading, where they pause and ‘heat maps’ of where people click and focus.

Top free marketing tips for free marketing

CrosseHR provides a number of HR services to startups including training and policy around PR. To view a full list of our services check out our solutions page, you can also follow us on Twitter and Linkedin for insights and updates!

5 Top Tips to Protect Your Reputation Online

5 Top Tips to Protect Your Reputation Online

In a world where information is just a key stroke away attacks to reputation online can be devastating for both individuals and businesses. Within larger organisations there are whole teams which work to protect online reputation and brand, however what about SME’s and not-for-profits who don’t have the  resources available to monitor and protect their image? Fear not CrosseHR has come up with some handy tips to protect your reputation online;

1. It starts with you

The information you put online allows people to make presumptions about who you are personally and what your company represents. Often people can be the makers of their own grief by posting things online which may even have been intended to be private, but is actually publicly available and gives the wrong message. The one rule to live by is that everything you do online; the messages you send, the pictures you post and the things you comment on can be made public. There are countless examples where online messages are sent and then exposed online by it’s recipient. HR departments regularly have to deal with Facebook posts by employees which don’t comply with company ethos, not to mention the flurry of inappropriate images which have become the norm amongst young people and daters. So how do you avoid this mess? It’s simple; with everything you do question what would my employer think of this? Or if you are an employer, what would my mother think of this? By asking yourself these questions it will make you consider the content of posts before you post them and prevent you from getting an ominous email from HR on a Friday afternoon.

2. Set all personal social media profiles to private

Setting profiles to private will prevent information being indexed by search engines. Indexing is when Google or another search engine takes information you have put online or information another person has put out about you and makes that available to anyone who searches for you or your company. The last thing you want when someone is Googling you are webpages and Facebook posts which show you or your company in a bad light. Follow these steps to make your personal accounts private;

For Facebook:

a) Go to the top right hand corner and click the padlock sign.

Padlock Icon

b) Click on the “see more settings” link.

Facebook 'see more settings'

c) You will be brought to this page.

Facebook Privacy Page for reputation online protection

d) At the bottom it asks whether you want search engines to link to your profile, make sure this option shows up as “no”.

e) Click on ‘Limit Past Posts’, this will limit the audience of your previous posts.

f) Make sure that only friends can see your future posts.

For Twitter:

Twitter profile toolbar

a) Click on your profile picture

Twitter settings

b) Click on settings.

Twitter options reputation online protection

c) Click security and privacy.

Reputation online protection twitter settings

d) This page will appear, click ‘Do not allow anyone to tag me in photos’, this will prevent anyone tagging you into an image that you wouldn’t want to be associated with.

e) Click ‘Protect my Tweets’, select this option if you don’t want your tweets to be publicly visible to anyone, by doing this you limit those who can see your tweets to just people you have approved.

f) Ensure all other options are not ticked.

3. The right to be forgotten

A relatively new feature to Google is the ability to be forgotten by asking Google to review and delete web pages from it’s results. The feature comes after a ruling in the European Court of Human Rights on data protection and currently users can ask Google not to display web pages containing their name where the page in question is irrelevant, no longer relevant, excessive or inadequate. If when Googling yourself, which we all at some point do, you find something that’s unfair or just plain wrong you can ask Google to omit it from their results by filling in a simple online form.

Click here to access the online form

4. Content, content, content

Google and other search engines display a certain number of results per page, therefore logic dictates that the more quality content you put out the more of that space will be occupied by you. By consistently creating and publishing online content you can knock detrimental results down to later pages which are seldom read. The ultimate goal is to have so much unique quality content that any attack on your reputation wouldn’t get close to page one of the results.

5. Contest your reputation online

If you do come across something contact the site the content is being hosted on, as well as doing a Google request (above). The last thing a site administrator wants is libellous content on their site and often a quick email will result in it’s swift removal. If the site is operated by the person creating the content then it is also a good idea to contact them asking them to remove it. If all above attempts fail it is a good idea to contact a solicitor who will be able to advise you on further action.

CrosseHR can advise on a range of HR issues including dismissals, tribunals and employment law. If you are experiencing issues with an employee’s online behaviour or want to develop your policies on responsible media use then CrosseHR can help! Call 0330 555 1139 or email hello@crossehr.co.uk, you can also view a full list of our services here.

Social media at work

Social media at work

‘Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt’ Abraham Lincoln

Wise words indeed. We’ve all heard the organisation mottos and slogans only to roll our eyes and work on. I once worked for an organisation who as part of their social media at work strategy actively encouraged staff to ‘go digital’ and use all forms of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogs to promote the organisation etc only to then attempt to dismiss staff for doing just that on the grounds of security and reputation. No one senior gave a thought to the fact that yes people do say where they work on FB and then post pictures of themselves on social media on their nights out and their views on elections etc and not necessarily of them flower arranging, doing good works or attending gallery openings…..…………..

Thankfully good sense prevailed in the end and no-one came a cropper as a result of the social media at work strategy but it did mark the beginning of the end of the social media strategy, which it should never have promoted in the first place, but not before an awful lot of goodwill, trust and morale was destroyed in the process. If organisations can’t match the slogan to their actions and if the proposition doesn’t match the words then you really should do something about it, so you don’t appear a fool at best or disingenuous at worst. Or at the very least have a well thought out social media policy or have it included in your code of conduct with the do’s and don’ts of posting on your personal account, Crosse HR can easily draft a social media policy or code of conduct for you.

How many organisations are falling short of the excellent staff they employ, how many let them down time and time again, by saying one thing and doing the complete opposite, like my social media example? How many then are surprised when these excellent people move on and take their talent and ethics to somewhere more deserving.? Where is that person (and it should be HR) that says if you don’t do what you say on the tin then don’t say anything at all?

Makes you think doesn’t it, Abraham was onto something when social media wasn’t even heard of!