Office holiday party: do or don't?
Business might appear to be thriving, but that doesn't mean the owner is flush with cash. One small business owner, who didn't want to be named, found employees' expectations “a bit presumptuous”. “When I bought my business a few years ago, that few extra hundred dollars at Christmas was an expense I didn't need,” he says. “I wasn't taking home any income for myself at that point, yet I was expected to provide a Christmas party for 30 people. You can't tell your staff you're struggling or they'll panic.”
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The gift that keeps on giving
Staff morale is important for productivity and a positive working environment. “Many believe an end-of-year function is vital to employee morale and many employers are using it as an extra opportunity to engage their valued staff and make them feel appreciated,” says Lisa Burrell, manager of workplace relations at the Victorian Employers' Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Keep a lid on it
Many employees bemoan the pre-Christmas party warnings about inappropriate behaviour. But it's your business, your livelihood and you'd be a fool not to exercise caution. Most small businesses don't have HR departments to manage the risk. The best thing you can do is treat the event like a regular workday with extra hazards.
- Do not feel obligated to throw the bash of the year; even a more low-key party will still show employees you're thankful for their efforts. “With skills shortages biting more and more, employers will more than likely retain incentives such as workplace functions and other rewards to ensure they hold onto good staff,” says Burrell.
- Check with your accountant to see if any party expenses are tax-deductible. Do not assume!
- Relax. Enjoy socialising with your hard-working staff after a tough economic year.