Here are my legal and practical suggestions for the holidays. Somebody had to say it.
Don’t Have A Party. You don’t want to see your employees drunk. They really don’t want to see you drunk. They also don’t want to spend their free time with you, especially on a weekend. They don’t want to hire a babysitter for the kids, don’t want to get stuck next to the asshat manager at dinner, and don’t want to choose between chicken or pasta. And their spouses have absolutely no interest in coming. Really. Don’t have a party.
Give Money, Not Gifts. Employees don’t want presents, not even wine, or scotch, or snuggies. They want cash. ‘Tis the season of extra bills and property taxes. If your company is short on funds this year, take the money you would have spent on a party and give it to the employees. There is nothing more demoralizing than going to a fancy lunch to learn there won’t be holiday bonuses this year.
Don’t Let People Drive Drunk. Driving drunk causes death. If you must have a party, pay for taxis or rent a nice bus to pick people up and drop them off. Also check your state laws on social host liability- you could be responsible for drunk employees’ accidents and the people they injure too.
Photo Op or Evidence? Everyone’s phone is now a camera that instantly uploads to Facebook and Twitter. Many are also video recorders. Reduce the chances of embarrassment and incriminating evidence by providing a phone check along with the coat check. If you want photos of employees enjoying the party, hire a photographer to come and shoot pictures before everyone gets wasted.
Give Time Off. Give employees extra paid time off. There is so much to do during the holidays and they aren’t really working anyway between December 20 and January 4. Consider closing the office between Christmas and New Year. If you can’t do that (especially if you’re in retail), at least make sure everyone has some family time and rest.
Not Everyone is Christian. It’s easy to assume that everyone celebrates Christmas. Trees are nondenominational, right? And everyone should at least tolerate Christmas because it’s everywhere, right? Wrong. Religion is a protected class and you can’t favor one over others at work. While I’m sure no one ever gave back a Christmas bonus because they weren’t Christian, you can’t make employment decisions based on religion. Be festive, eat chocolate. Just watch the religious symbolism at work.
Don’t Fire People During the Holidays. Even if you need to cut the workforce, wait until January and give people plenty of advance notice so they can start adjusting now. If you’re trying to get out of paying into the 401K, you should have considered that earlier. Firing people during the holidays is rotten, creates bad will with all the employees, and increases your chances of a claims and lawsuits. So unless it’s something egregious, don’t fire someone in December.
Don’t Send Out Crappy Holiday Greetings. The only thing worse than cheap printed cards, is expensive ugly printed cards. The only thing worse than that, are cheesy animated emails that say you’re donating the money for cards and postage to some charity. We don’t care whether you’re taking a business expense deduction or a charitable contribution deduction. If you send out a holiday message, make it considerate, or at least funny. People remember the bad ones. They never notice not getting another stupid card with an embossed earth and doves.
Say Thank You. No matter how the financial year went, be sure to acknowledge the effort of the people who worked hard and cared.