Jingle bells or alarm bells? Twelve ways to manage a happy Christmas 

Last minute requests for time off, wine suddenly appearing in the office fridge and staff looking stressed or a little too laidback in the run-up to Christmas are just a few of the challenges that managers may face as the festive season approaches.

Here are our 12 ways of Christmas to keep your team happy and productive and avoid big festive fallouts: 

  1. Have a clear annual leave policy and encourage staff to think ahead and book time off well in advance. Be clear about the requirements for adequate staff cover at Christmas. Consider offering an extra hour off or early finish here and there as Christmas approaches – this can be enormously helpful for staff balancing busy work and home lives and will inspire goodwill and loyalty. 
  2. Make clear and fair arrangements for staff cover and opening hours over the Christmas break and communicate these well in advance to manage staff and customer expectations. 
  3. Keep an eye on ‘secret Santa’ plans. Make sure staff aren’t being expected to spend too much (set a reasonable limit) and that it’s easy to opt out. Have clear parameters – a gift that one person finds humorous could be offensive to someone else. Consider asking staff for gift request lists to avoid upset and annoyance. 
  4. Look out for signs of stress among your staff. Christmas can be a difficult time for many people – whether your work environment is busier or quieter at this time of year. Be supportive, maintain an open-door policy and ensure you can offer signposting to relevant services. 
  5. Be inclusive. Remember that Christmas is not the only religious festival that may be important to staff members. (Be aware that refusing to grant time off for other religious festivals and observances could amount to discrimination.)  
  6. Have a clear written policy about alcohol consumption during working hours and on work premises and being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or suffering the after-effects, while at work. This will apply all year but can be highlighted during the festive season. 
  7. If your Christmas party is on a worknight, make it clear that staff are expected to be at work as usual the next day (unless they have the day off). You could consider offering a slightly later start but communicate this clearly. 
  8. Make sure the Christmas party is inclusive and arranged at a time, location and venue that can be enjoyed by all. Cater for those who do not drink alcohol or eat certain foods if needed. 
  9. Have a clear written policy about the standards of behaviour expected at work functions. This will serve as a useful reminder at Christmas party time. (Managers can be liable for the behaviour of their staff during or even after a works event and if this spirals out of control it can become a serious matter.) 
  10. Take steps to ensure staff will be safe travelling to and from the Christmas party, for example, encourage the use of shared taxis and make sure individuals are accompanied if returning to car parks late at night. 
  11. Keep your staff motivated as the year draws to an end. Hold teambuilding sessions, set clear expectations for what needs to be completed, review the past year’s successes and brainstorm plans for the coming year. 
  12. Don’t be a party-pooper! Christmas jumpers, office decorations and a good supply of mince pies will create a feelgood atmosphere in the workplace which feeds into better teamworking and higher productivity.

Impellus offers a range of Level 3 training courses that are targeted at team leaders and newly promoted managers, enabling them to analyse, understand and apply key management skills.  

Courses can be taken as standalone modules or as part of an ILM Level 3 Award in Leadership and Management or an Impellus Level 3 Certificate of Learning in Leadership and Management.