With coronavirus restrictions set to remain in place across the UK for Christmas, many of our usual Christmas festivities may need to be changed, or cancelled completely, this year.
At this time of year, many organisations are usually hard at work planning for events related to the season. For example, in the past, businesses may have organised Christmas parties, in-house quizzes, dress-down days and even workplace buffets. Staff may have been permitted to come into work wearing Christmas jumpers, and exchange Secret Santa presents. In short, Christmas at work, if managed carefully, can be an exciting and joyful time. However, like with most other things in 2020, the coronavirus pandemic remains a key issue, one which will make organising many of the usual Christmas activities difficult.
Why should organisations not just cancel Christmas?
There is no doubt that Christmas events at work can be very popular with a workforce, helping to improve both morale and productivity levels. This is because they can be used as a way to reward staff for their hard work; returning to the Christmas party example, the party can remind staff that the company appreciates everything they do and wants them to have a good time with their colleagues.
All of this will not change during Christmas 2020. People across the country will face continued coronavirus restrictions, something that has now been a normal part of our lives since March. Couple that with their employers cancelling all usual Christmas events completely and company morale may reach an all-time low.
What events should an organisation put on?
So, if the business does want to organise some level of Christmas celebration this year, what options are open to it?
The first event that will likely be called into question is the annual Christmas party. Due to Covid restrictions, it is highly unlikely that a party will be possible this year, so what should take its place? After all, the absence of an external social event does not mean that Christmas events do not need to be permitted in-house.
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, whilst contact between those in the workplace can also continue to be kept at a minimum.
Other workplace celebrations, like Christmas jumper days, can also easily be permitted whilst also maintaining social distancing, as can other workplace perks, like early finishes on Christmas Eve. Employees can even be permitted to exchange Secret Santa gifts, however it is highly advisable to reduce contact between staff by quarantining all gifts for at least 72 hours before distributing them.
What should organisations watch out for?
When organising Christmas events this year, aside from the obvious safety element, there are a number of key areas to bear in mind. The first is inclusivity. As usual, any events that are organised should be done in a way that includes the highest number of staff.
One way of tackling this is asking employees for ideas on Christmas events they would like to be organised, bearing in mind what is possible at this current time. It is also important to make sure no employee is forced into taking part in something they do not want to – any Christmas event should be completely optional for staff.
Organisations should also take care in relation to how much a Christmas event is going to cost. If they have spent the last few months making difficult decisions on redundancies and reducing staff pay, it is likely to not be well received if they then spend large amounts of money on Christmas presents or events.
Decisions should be made that are reasonable, considering what the company can actually afford to do at this time.