Managing Staff Through a Coronavirus Christmas

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Andrew Willis

Andrew Willis

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30 Nov 2020

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Coronavirus restrictions are set to remain in place across the UK for Christmas. This means many Christmas festivities may change this year—or be cancelled. With this in mind—how do you give morale a boost during this period?

Christmas is just around the corner. At this point many companies are usually hard at work planning seasonal events. If managed carefully, Christmas can be an exciting and joyful time. However, in true 2020 fashion, the coronavirus pandemic remains a key issue. This will make organising many of the usual Christmas activities difficult.

COVID-19 & Christmas

Why shouldn’t I just cancel Christmas?

Christmas events at work can be very popular with your workforce. They help improve both morale and productivity levels. This is because they can be used as a way to reward staff for their hard work. A Christmas party, for example, can remind staff that the company appreciates everything they do.

2020 has been a year of hard decisions, and there isn’t a workplace in the world that hasn’t been affected in some way. If your business is one of those that has been hit the hardest, end of year festivity may be helpful. On the opposite end, cancelling all events may cause morale to reach an all-time low.

What events should a company put on?

So, if you do want to organise some level of Christmas celebration this year, what options are open to you?

The first event that will likely be called into question is the annual Christmas party. Due to COVID restrictions, it’s highly unlikely that a party will be possible this year. But could something else take its place? After all, the absence of an external social event doesn’t mean that all Christmas events are off the schedule.

Christmas quizzes, for example, could be allowed to go ahead but through the use of software such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams. In this way, all staff can be included even if some of them are working from home. The benefit of this approach is that physical contact between those in the workplace can also continue to be kept at a minimum.

Christmas jumper days can also go ahead whilst maintaining social distancing. You can provide all other workplace perks, like early finishes on Christmas Eve. You can even permit your employees to exchange Secret Santa gifts. If you choose to do Secret Santa it’s highly advisable to reduce contact between staff. You can do this by quarantining all gifts for at least 72 hours before distributing them.

What should companies watch out for?

When organising Christmas events this year there are a number of key areas to bear in mind. The first is inclusivity. You should organise events in a way that includes the highest number of staff.

One way of tackling this is to ask employees for ideas on Christmas events they would like to see. Bear in mind what is possible at this current time and remind them of this. It’s also important that you don’t force any employees into taking part in something they do not want to. Christmas events should be completely optional for staff.

You should also take care in relation to how much a Christmas event is going to cost. This is particularly important to keep in mind if you’ve had to make difficult decisions this year. If you’ve had to reduce staff pay or make redundancies, spending lots of money on Christmas events won’t go down well. Consider what the company can actually afford to do at this time and make reasonable decisions.

Expert support

If you aren't sure how to handle Christmas in your workplace this year, speak to one of our HR or health & safety experts today on 01455 848 132.

About the Author

Andrew Willis

Andrew Willis is the senior manager of the Litigation and Employment Department and assumes additional responsibility for managing Croner’s office based telephone HR advisory teams, who specialise in employment law, HR and commercial legal advice for small & large organisations across the United Kingdom.

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