It’s not all about the Christmas Party!

Thinking about staff and Christmas tends to lead to thoughts of Christmas parties. While a Christmas party never goes astray, there are other important things to plan for too.

The time to start preparing is now. You need to manage expectations of the company and staff to avoid a dispute with staff members at Christmas time when emotions are running high.

Here are our top five tips for preparing your staff and business for Christmas.

1. Tell your staff about any planned shut down period

This doesn’t mean telling them the dates that the business will be closed. That is only part one. You also need to explain what affect it will have on them. For example, is the business completely closed, or just closed to clients? If staff aren’t required to work, are they required to take some of their paid annual leave during the shut down? Or is it unpaid leave? If you are requiring them to take leave, you need to confirm your legal ability to do so under any relevant award.

2. Roster for busy/quiet periods

December and January can be a very quiet time (or a very busy time) of year for some businesses. If you run a business that tends to have significant increased or decreased demand at this time of year, give some consideration to your staffing needs in advance.

Perhaps you will only need a skeleton staff to answer the few client calls that might be made. Or, perhaps your business does large volumes of trading during the Christmas holidays, like Boxing Day, requiring extra staff to cope with the increased demand.

Whatever the case may be, make sure staff rosters are agreed in advance so that people are not surprised or disappointed about their lack of work hours (or their lack of holiday time), and they can plan their holiday engagements around work well in advance. Equally, you want to make sure the business is not left in the lurch with insufficient available staff.

3. Plan out Christmas bonuses

In some industries it is very common to award bonuses to staff at Christmas time. This is an awesome show of respect and value in a team. However, make sure you get some advice from your accountant. For example, if you award the same amount of money at Christmas to all staff every year, there is a real risk that the money will be viewed as a standard payment (ie. not a bonus) and may attract superannuation.

4. Plan for the year ahead

During Christmas and the New Year period, it is common for people to start thinking about their goals and making plans for the year ahead. It is not uncommon for many people to start looking for new jobs and eventually resign from their employment having decided to make a change over the holiday period.

Similarly, businesses too need to make plans and goals for the year ahead, in all aspects of the business, including staffing requirements. Are you planning to grow in the new year? Is it time to hire another staff member? The early part of the year is a great time to be looking to benefit from those people who are feeling ready to make a move.

5. And finally – the Christmas Party!

There are endless stories about all of the things that can go wrong with a work Christmas party. Drunken staff, embarrassing behaviour, misconduct and sexual harassment.

To avoid this, there are a few simple things you can do. Limit the amount of alcohol available, ensure that people have access to safe transport home, pay particular attention to under age staff attending the party, and make sure all staff know when the business Christmas party ends and when they start taking complete responsibility for themselves.

Bonus Tip

To finish off – a bonus tip! Make sure you have one (or two!) contingency plans in place. For example, if you are planning to have a day off during the Christmas period, is there a senior staff member who can be on call?

Christmas is for spending time with family and friends. Make sure you have prepared your business so that you and your staff can enjoy the season without being caught up with business and work worries.

Add any of your business tips for planning for Christmas in the comments.