2020 has been a strange and difficult year for the majority of people. Not only have we experienced the unfortunate loss of loved ones, but we’ve also had national and local lockdowns restricting us on where we can go and what we can do. Decisions will also need to be taken on how Christmas is spent with family and friends this year as we take into account the three-household rule that has just been introduced.
Within the workplace, there have been wide-scale redundancies on top of variations to terms including reducing employees’ hours of work and pay cuts.
We are now in December and, usually, this is a time where we are preparing for Christmas celebrations at work, including lunches, secret Santas and the ever-popular office Christmas parties. These celebrations have always played an important part to company culture; employees work hard all year and look forward to the events, counting down the days until they have time off over the Christmas period.
However, at a time when morale of staff is potentially at an all-time low due to the effects of the pandemic, most employers will be cancelling these events due to concerns over health and safety, the inability to socially distance and cost.
Many employees will be working from home, self-isolating or on furlough leave and so have not had the benefit of social interaction with their colleagues for a considerable amount of time. Therefore, it is important to remember that, despite traditional events not going ahead this year, other ways to boost staff morale can still be considered.
Virtual events are a way to get everyone involved, such as quizzes and games or even a full virtual Christmas party where staff get dressed up and bring their own drinks. Management can make the relevant speeches and toasts and, instead of dancing, various games can take place instead.
Secret Santa could still be carried out, where employees order their gift online and have it delivered to the recipient’s home address. The presents can then be opened on a video call with the rest of the team.
Smaller events in the workplace can be considered too, where individual teams can dress up or wear the obligatory Christmas jumper and have a Christmas lunch delivered (ensuring that social distancing guidelines are followed of course).
As always, it is important to remember to include all employees when planning these events, such as individuals who may not be technologically minded or have the right tools to be able to join virtual events. Extra support should be considered where necessary so that people in these groups are still involved if they wish to be.
Employers should also remind staff about the standard rules of behaviour required of them. Just because an event is virtual, does not mean that the rules don’t apply. They should still be expected to adhere to the policies and procedures of the company to ensure that grievances and complaints are not received after Christmas.
For example, if secret Santa is going ahead, it may be wise to remind staff that whilst not wanting to put a dampener on the celebrations, they need to ensure that any presents should not be discriminatory, be of a sexual nature, or be offensive to the recipient.
Therefore, the key message is that just because we are currently in a worldwide pandemic, it doesn’t mean that Christmas celebrations within the workplace shouldn’t happen, it just needs a little creativity and common sense.