29 Nov 2022

The importance of HR at Christmas

As everyone starts winding down for the festive season, it can be one of the busiest times of the year for HR. There are Christmas parties to organise, end of year appraisals to complete on top of the usual tasks.

It’s also worth remembering it’s also the ideal time to focus on celebration and gratitude and thanking staff for a job well done. This is more important than many may think as according to one career web site January and February is the best time of year to look for a job[i].

HR doesn’t want their workforce sat over the festive season making it their new year’s resolution to find a new job! Instead, they want their employees to return rested, happy and motivated for the New Year ahead.

Christmas is therefore a key time to remind staff of how great the company is to work for and to stop any thoughts people may have for moving on. Here are some top tips from Activ People HR for keeping the workforce happy and engaged:

Positive communication about the year head

In December do a round-up of the company’s achievements during the year and what is planned for the next. This could be an email from the managing director, a communication delivered in a team meetings or company event. Its purpose should be to thank staff and get them excited for the year ahead by going through some of the key goals and projects that they can look forward too.

The power of praise

Staff should be thanked for their hard work and commitment. At Christmas this should be a matter of course. This could be done in end of year reviews or managers could thank their teams with Friday afternoon drinks or the opportunity to leave early on the last day. Whatever the method it’s a positive way to end the year and will leave staff feeling more engaged and motivated. Activ Appraisals software can be a useful way of keeping track of appraisals and reviews throughout the year and ensure praise is given on a regular basis.

Organise a Christmas party

Not matter what the size of the company, giving staff the chance to let their hair down at a Christmas party or lunch always goes down well. It’s another chance to say thank you and for people to mingle and bond with their colleagues away from the office. It’s important that HR manages these events well and sets ground rules for people not drinking too much and calling in sick with a hangover the next day. However, most people are sensible, and the office Christmas party can be a great event everyone looks forward to.

Be flexible over Christmas time off

The festive period can throw up some HR challenges if the office isn’t closed for a set period. Being flexible with paid time off and allowing remote working where possible for those working during this time can be a real benefit. If the workplace isn’t usually closed, have a policy that enables everyone to be able to book time off over Christmas during a two or three year cycle so the same people aren’t always off. Be mindful too of different religious views and people that may not celebrate Christmas. They may want to swap public holidays over the festive season for days that suit their religion. Facilitating this can be a great way to show inclusivity in an organisation.

Encourage annual leave throughout the year

Making sure people take their annual leave can improve their wellbeing, productivity and happiness. Often people don’t book all their leave and then there is a mad dash to get some time off at the end of the year. If the organisation has a ‘use it or lose it’ policy, encourage people to book leave and send regular reminders to people. Keeping track of people’s holidays and helping people to plan ahead can be done easily with absence management software, Activ Absence. This can also highlight people who haven’t taken much leave so managers can step in and find out why if necessary.

Mental health support

Christmas can be a stressful time for some and not everyone will enjoy it or want to get involved in company activities. Not everyone’s home life is harmonious. Some people may also have had a busy year and as the year ends could be facing burnout.

HR should be mindful of all these issues and ensure they have support for staff. They could offer some tips for keeping well over the Christmas period via the intranet and signpost people to company support such as EAPs as a reminder the support services available. This can be helpful and ensure people have somewhere should they need support during the holidays.

Activ Absence is also a useful tool for tackling mental health as it can help managers spot patterns in behaviour such as taking a lot of time off that may be a red flag that someone is struggling.

As 2023 is fast approaching considering how best to support staff over the festive season and ensure they return happy and motivated is vital for HR. Planning ahead and taking on board some of these tips could really help and get the New Year off to a positive start!


[i] https://careersidekick.com/the-two-best-and-worst-times-of-the-year-for-job-hunting/