Published: December 15, 2021 | Updated: December 16, 2021
Topical advice as ViewHR ponder the question: Should the work Christmas party be cancelled?
“Should we cancel our Christmas party?”
Here at ViewHR, this is a question we have been asked on more than one occasion in the past couple of weeks by employers.
It is an ever-changing terrain, writes Gemma Murphy, Director, ViewHR.
In the context of rising Covid-19 infections, and the new Omicron variant, this may seem like an easy question to answer for some. However, social events for employees can be important for motivation and team bonding, and many will have been disappointed that festive celebrations were not able to go ahead in 2020.
Current government guidance is also a little unclear. On the one hand, hospitality venues remain open, and are even exempted from the requirement to wear face masks in most public indoor venues, but on the other, the new guidance requires employees to work from home where it is possible to do so, and Downing Street have cancelled their own staff Christmas party.
There are many factors for employers to consider. What if half of the workforce catch Covid at the party and then all go off sick? What if somebody becomes seriously unwell? Is there a risk of excluding more vulnerable members of our workforce? Will we lose our deposit? What about the local economy? What if everybody has to self-isolate on Christmas Day and cannot see their family if we all get “pinged”? What are our health and safety responsibilities?
Based on the above, we are sorry to say that there is not an easy answer! However, our recommendations for consideration are:
- Speak to employees to understand their views and feelings. Even though the party may technically be allowed to go ahead, this does not mean that everybody will be comfortable, as they may have concerns about family members, the risk of being required to self-isolate for the big day, etc. However, it might be that they are all raring to go!
- If you are going ahead, consider precautionary measures, such as requiring employees to take a lateral flow test on the day of the event, and ensuring the venue has appropriate measures in place to protect your employees’ safety.
- If you are not going ahead, think about alternatives (as an “everything is cancelled” message is not the most motivational). These could include using any money saved to purchase a gift for employees, setting a rescheduled date for something to look forward to or arranging something virtually (we set out some ideas for this in another blog available here: viewhr.co.uk/virtual-staff-christmas-party-ideas).
- Keep an eye on the government guidance – things can change very quickly at the moment, and so a decision made one day, may unfortunately need to be reviewed the next!
- Check out the financial implications of cancelling. Have you paid a deposit or other costs that will be lost? Can you re-book with the venue for another day?
Ultimately, everyone is feeling deflated with the current resurgence of Covid, the health of loved ones and the anticipation of what 2022 may bring in January, so managing your communication and listening to everyone is vital at this time.
We hope many of you had early Christmas parties and have avoided such difficult decisions!
If you are an employer and would like to discuss your options further from an HR perspective, or any other employment matters arising from the government’s Plan B announcement, please contact a member of the ViewHR team today.
Gemma Murphy, Director of View HR Limited.