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The do’s and don’ts of workplace etiquette this covid Christmas

John Nicklin, MD - Sorce

We’ve had lockdowns, remote working, hybrid working and now the complications of the new Omicron Covid variant. Throw all this into the mix and it’s hardly surprising that employers aren’t clear what Christmas in the office should look like this year. Might it even be best to cancel office celebrations altogether? Here are some insights alongside a selection of UK business leaders.

  1. Poll staff on whether to hold a virtual or in-person Xmas party

Mike McCloy, Senior Account Manager from corporate events management company, Maximillion, says “When organising an office party, it’s important to consider whether your employees would rather celebrate the office Christmas party in-person or via an online virtual event. A quick way of finding this information out is to create an inter-office poll via email or arrange a meeting to ask employees their thoughts and any requests they may have.”

  1. Carefully manage office capacity

John Nicklin, MD of Sorce, which provides desk booking solution Juggl Desks, says “Now isn’t the time to relax health and safety measures, especially with the threat of Omicron. If you’re holding office celebrations, make sure you know who is going to be in the office and when, to avoid overcrowding. Will employees be coming into the office to do some work as well as celebrate, thereby requiring a desk? Will they need a car parking space? Having technology in place to manage office attendance will make planning any celebrations easier, while giving staff peace of mind that their employer is prioritising their wellbeing.”

  1. Focus on appreciation more than the office party

Claire Crompton, Commercial Director of Bolton SEO agency, The Audit Lab says “Don’t just think about how big the work Christmas party can be, but think about how you can celebrate your staff’s hard work and achievements over the past year. Sure, employees love a bar tab and social gathering at Christmas, but what they appreciate more is a thankful review to see how the business has done and where it’s going. Schedule a day for a little festive celebration (Christmas jumpers encouraged) to present awards, report back how well the business has done, inform what plans you have for the coming year, and reward staff for their hard work.”

  1. Be inclusive with your terminology

Liesa Stecher, Chief Marketing Officer from financial services firm, Addition says “When planning your end-of-year event, it’s best to adopt neutral terminology that’s inclusive. Language like ‘Christmas party’ seems festive and fun, but it could alienate team members who don’t celebrate Christmas. Personally, I like ‘Winter’ – it’s a great theme in itself and increases the chances that everyone will feel included in your celebrations.”

  1. Be tech-ready for remote celebrations

Jeremy Stewart, Business Development Director from Sorce, which is a leading provider of intranet solutions, says, “Some Christmas celebrations will be taking place remotely this year, which means ensuring the employer has the right technologies and apps in place and everyone can access them. It’s no good hosting a remote Christmas party to find that half the workforce can’t log-on via their mobile phones. And in the build-up to the party, why not ask staff to nominate colleagues for awards that are presented during the event? This should be easily done via the company intranet or another platform.”

  1. Don’t forget front-line workers

Steve Frost, CEO and Founder of employee engagement expert, WorkBuzz, says, “There’s a stark engagement divide between office-based workers and front-line workers, with almost half of organisations with mostly frontline/on-site workers seeing engagement decline over the past year. It’s therefore more important than ever to involve frontline workers in the festive celebrations, and not unintentionally exclude them because they can’t make it into the office, or because they haven’t been provided with the right technology for keeping connected.”

  1. Don’t place any financial burden on colleagues

Donald Moore, Chair of B Corp schoolwear supplier One+All says, “Everyone is under greater financial pressures at Christmas, especially the lower paid. And this has been exacerbated by the pandemic.  So don’t put any financial expectations on your people to fork out for a Secret Santa gift or contribute towards a celebration. In fact, this time of year should be about the employer supporting the financial wellbeing of its people. One+All does this in a number of ways including paying salaries early December, and providing emergency interest-free loans so colleagues don’t have to worry about unexpected costs during the festive season.”

John Nicklin, MD of Sorce adds, “There’s no playbook on how employers should manage Christmas this year. However it’s important that whatever celebrations take place are inclusive, prioritise staff wellbeing and are focused on recognising the great efforts and accomplishments of every individual. This will put both staff and the business in a really positive place as we enter 2022.”

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