It’s Christmas next month. I just had to say that out loud, so you are all as horrified as I am (three kids, no shopping done – sigh). This also means the annual Office Christmas Party looms. Now, your first instinct is to be excited at the prospect of ordering new gear off The Iconic, but the office party is a serious event and you need to keep your wits about you. In fact, navigating the work Christmas party is more fraught than finding yourself stuck in the corner with your great uncle on Christmas Day and having to listen to him bang on about the good old days when you could call people names and nobody went to jail for stealing the office stationery.
Here are your tips for getting through the work Christmas party without earning demerit points with HR:
- Remember it’s a WORK do, so all the codes of conduct from the office will apply.
- Don’t let alcohol loosen your inhibitions – whatever you do, don’t get drunk and tell the boss s/he’s an idiot and wouldn’t know how to organise a knees up in a brewery, let alone run the company properly (I have done this, so I speak from experience).
- It’s OK if you don’t like everyone you work with. You don’t sign anything that says you HAVE to like people – but you DO have to treat people with respect and not engage in anything that could be classified as bullying or harassment. Just so you know, deliberately excluding people from something is a form of bullying, so don’t get together with your buddies from the sales support team and turn your backs on Jane from accounts. Gossiping is also a form of harassment/bullying.
- Do not get drunk, take off all your clothes and try to sing karaoke. Don’t laugh. It’s happened.
- Don’t get frisky. Even if it’s reciprocated, try very hard not to do it. The cold light of day may change people’s perceptions of a passionate snog and if there is a power imbalance between you and the other person, there is a risk of harassment accusations. Whilst there is rarely a written company policy on it, romance in the office is inherently dangerous. So even if you have a mad crush on someone, try not to act on it at the work Christmas do.
- Remember, you don’t have to intend to offend someone for them to be offended. So, if you are telling colourful jokes or the odd politically incorrect story, you are in danger of making someone uncomfortable and feeling bullied. Yes, I know you think the whole world has gone too PC and people need to drink concrete and harden up, but the truth is – those jokes have always been offensive and inappropriate, it’s just that now people are going to tell you that they are, and HR is going to be pulling your file out for a wee look.
- Work Health Safety rules still apply – and YOU are responsible for ensuring that you behave in a way that does not place you OR anyone else in an unsafe situation. Do not think for a second that your employer won’t use YOUR behaviour to reduce their liability for any workers compensation or Fair Work claims if you acted in an unsafe way or cause injury to someone else. And safety is not just physical safety, it’s also psychological safety.
Right, so now that you are all too scared to move in case you offend someone or cause an injury, you are completely ready to order that new gear online and go off to the work Christmas party…Happy Holidays to you all!