Bosses, Communicate Expectations to Avoid Disaster at Office Christmas Parties

Office Christmas parties mean free booze and food, but for managers there's a danger of having to reprimand a rambunctious employee. Set an example before the party, and communicate your expectations.

Office Christmas parties are wonderful opportunities for employees and their managers get to know one another in a more informal setting. They're also a cause of great stress for managers. Employees often forget that they're still in a work environment, and wind up unintentionally damaging relationships with their co-workers and their boss. So, it's important that managers take the lead to communicate their expectations to their staff.


Karen Higginbottom of Forbes has written on survey results from the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) that managers and employees should consider before letting loose at the next office Christmas party. The ILM surveyed 1,000 UK workers who revealed the biggest mistakes they think employees make at a Christmas party. The study found 87 percent have seen colleagues overindulge in alcohol, 48 percent have gone into work the next day with a hangover, and 28 percent have heard staff members reveal a co-worker's secrets. It doesn't paint a pretty picture for anyone.

As it turns out, some managers won't stand for rude behavior--51 percent said they'd reprimand a worker that was rude and 28 percent said they wouldn't stand for an employee exposing someone's secrets. Though, managers aren't entirely unforgiving—only 10 percent said they would reprimand an employee for coming in with a hangover. 

In order to avoid any unwanted behavior, Charles Elvin, Chief Executive of ILM, says:

“Fall-out from the festive party can be a worry for managers. It is important that leaders communicate exactly what behavior will be tolerated and what behavior will not, and as always, lead by example. You can’t offer a free bar all night, then complain when people drink too much.”

Managers surveyed stated that they thought it was acceptable to get to know people in the company from other sections and discuss interests outside of work, while a few were ok with some dancing and networking with higher-ups. However, managers will be less tolerant of rudeness and getting drunk (and the foolishness that usually follows).

The bottom line is managers and employees want to enjoy the office Christmas parties, but it's important that bosses communicate their expectations to staffers (especially those who may be new to an office setting).

Read more at Forbes

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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