6 HR Tips for the Holidays

Local expert offers ways to keep your company celebrations enjoyable for all.


It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Unless you’re a business owner…

Fall is upon us — which means pumpkin spice everything, Halloween costume parties, Thanksgiving festivities, hot cocoa, tacky sweaters, paid holidays and the often-dreaded office party.

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Employers everywhere get into the spirit, wanting to show appreciation for their teams, build morale and convince them how much FUN work can be! Sounds magical right? Well it can be a nightmare for CEOs and HR.

The following are the biggest challenges of the season and some ideas on what businesses can do to avoid problems:

  1. Making Spirits Bright

Don’t over-serve alcohol. Hire a trained bartender and monitor drinking with ticket usage. Some businesses choose to provide transportation. An easy solution is to open an account with Uber or Lyft for the night, either partnering for a discount code or paying for the transport for your employees. Assign a few leaders to be the “Hall Monitors” and serve food throughout the event.

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  1. More Tricks than Treat

Linda in sales as the sexy elf vs. Larry in accounting as the confederate officer can be humorous or cause controversy. It’s crucial to set some boundaries on costumes and define proper decorum. The Monster Mash and dirty dancing are fun but be watchful of handsy employees and know when to interject on the dance floor. Expanding the guest list to plus-one can help keep risky co-worker behavior in-line.

  1. Ho-Ho Holiday Scheduling

Establish what days are considered paid holidays and notify employees in advance of potential early office closures. How truly productive is your team on Black Friday? Is the party considered paid overtime, during regular working hours in the office break room or at an offsite location after hours? Hosting your event outside of the regular workweek helps separate work from play a bit.

  1. Reindeer Games

Set a good example and expect civility from your leadership team. Remind employees that the same daily work etiquette applies during the event and refer to your EEO and diversity policy for reference. Provide examples of inappropriate behavior and costumes, such as costumes that are unsafe, too revealing or are ethnic, religious or race-based costumes.

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  1. Oh, Holy Night

Keep in mind that not everyone celebrates each holiday. Do not exclude religious practices and be mindful of office décor. Christmas tree, menorah or both? Again, be inclusive and appreciative of the unique diversity that makes up our communities. Is this event mandatory? Holidays are for giving, not mandating. Make it optional.

  1. Gobble Gobble

Everyone loves a good potluck, but be considerate of food allergies and be prepared to supply the main course, such as the ham or turkey. Invite your most loyal customers or vendors to participate to show them some appreciation as well.

Before you’re too frightened and cancel your upcoming fete, review these tips to increase the safety of your holiday festivities. After all, a party should be a time of celebration, not a time to create evidence that will be used in a lawsuit against you. Ensuring your company culture is intact throughout the year will keep things from escalating during this festive time, and keep the lump of coal from your stocking.  



Amy B. Bakay, SHRM-SCP, is the Owner and Principal Consultant for HR NOLA, a Human Resources Outsourcing and Consulting firm, head quartered in New Orleans. Amy is also an Adjunct Professor at Tulane University Law School where she authored and currently instructs a course in the Masters of Jurisprudence in Employment Law program. She is a certified member of SHRM and will serve as 2019 President-Elect on the local Chapter’s Board of Directors for NOLA SHRM. Amy’s passion is solving people-problems, and joins other successful women at the American Business Women’s Association in their mission to bring together businesswomen of diverse occupations for opportunities to grow personally and professionally.



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