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Christmas Fails – Stories From the Business News

Christmas Fails – Stories From the Business News

Mince pies, mulled wine and the Christmas party mean it’s easy to become distracted in the build-up to Christmas. We take a look at some of the things that can go wrong at your Christmas party and how you can avoid making the same mistakes in your business.   

When The Christmas Party Goes Wrong 

The Christmas Party Festive Fail 

Every business has stories of at least one infamous office Christmas party. Most businesses don’t want the details of these events to be published. But employees? Well, they’re not so shy about coming forward. Here are a few quotes from Reddit about festive fiestas gone wrong: 

“I saw a coworker complain about a recent assignment, then say, ‘Don’t tell Bruce I was complaining.’ She was talking to her boss, Bruce.” 


“Our CEO got drunk and announced that he would be taking the entire company on vacation to Cancun. Ten months later, he did. Yeah, I work for one of ‘those’ startups.” 


“This year’s Christmas party was $35 a ticket with no meal included, and everyone was required to bring a secret Santa gift worth at least $25. So that’s $60 to spend time with my coworkers… Yeah…I didn’t end up going.” 


The Christmas Party Lesson 

It’s likely that the first two tales can be traced back to excessive alcohol consumption. Which makes the moral of these stories not to drink too much at your end-of-year party. Of course, everyone wants to have a good time; just make sure there’s plenty of food to line people’s stomachs. And maybe set a reasonable limit of the firm’s contribution to the bar bill. 

The second learn is to ensure that whatever you’re planning for your Christmas do, make sure it’s accessible to the whole team. Many firms contribute a certain amount per head to the cost of a party to ensure everyone can attend regardless of salary.  

Coca-Cola Makes a Political Blunder 

The Festive Fail 

At a time when the whole country grinds to a halt, it’s an opportunity for businesses large and small to wish their customers merry Christmas and a happy new year.  

Unfortunately for Coca-Cola, back in 2016 they managed to drop a massive Christmas clanger by wishing consumers in Russia and Crimea festive greetings. Which is fine so far. Except they decided to do it using a red and white map depicting one of the most hotly disputed borders in the world.  

Cue heated arguing, fury on both sides of the border and a sheepish Coca-Cola who were forced to apologise and replace the map with a new version.  

Problem solved? Not really. This simple solution resulted in a new chart that also included Crimea and Kuril Islands – another contested area. After a second deletion and another apology, Coca-Cola decided to call it quits on this campaign. 

The Lesson 

Pick how you celebrate carefully. The old advice – to avoid politics, religion and sex – is probably good guidance to live by. For businesses who send Christmas cards this might mean avoiding religious imagery or humorous cards that could cause offence. 

If your organisation is Christian and all your customers are Christians, then relevant religious imagery will no doubt be fine. But for mixed audiences with different faiths or perspectives, you could be wasting your money. Instead, you could stick to something safer like making a donation instead of sending cards. 

Festive Delivery Fails 

The Festive Fail 

With food such a focal point at Christmas, it’s a major time of year for grocery retailers. Which is why it was such a fail when Ocado (which delivers for Waitrose) didn’t deliver shoppers’ online orders on time. Or at all.  

Some customers claimed they’d placed their orders way back in October to ensure they got what they needed for the festive period. Despite charging up to £9.99 for Christmas delivery slots, Ocado failed to deliver the goods. Leaving customers doing a last-minute dash round their local supermarket.

Another company that’s been called out numerous times for their festive fails is FedEx. Their festive faux pas include missing thousands of Christmas delivery dates and one contractor who ditched 435 parcels.   

And then there’s one of the most widely-shared FedEx horror shows where a FedEx employee throws a computer monitor over a garden wall.  

The Lesson 

Ocado put their failed deliveries down to a lack of drivers. Which highlights the importance of getting your workforce planning right in the run-up to Christmas. Particularly if this time of year can make or break your business results.  

The FedEx debacles also teach small business owners another valuable lesson. Regardless of whether your workers are employees, contractors or temps, effective training and performance monitoring should still apply. 

If you don’t want to be responsible for any festive HR fails this Christmas, get in touch with Crosse HR for expert support. Call on 0330 555 1139 or email us at hello@crossehr.co.uk.

3 Ideas for Managing Staff Holidays Over Christmas 

3 Ideas for Managing Staff Holidays Over Christmas 

Managing staff holidays can be difficult and we all expect the odd argument over the festive period. But workplace conflict often comes before December 25th as everyone competes for time off work.  

Don’t leave holiday decision making to the last minute. Keep your staff on-side and your business running with these three ideas for managing staff Christmas holidays. 

# 1 – Start the Conversation Early 

As a general rule of thumb, employees should ask for holiday with twice the amount of notice as the leave being taken. That means if one of your team wants two weeks off over Christmas, they need to ask four weeks before the first day of leave.   

For employers, the rules are slightly less stringent as you only need to provide like-for-like notice. If you’re going to refuse a holiday request for one week’s leave, you should provide your refusal at least one week before it’s due to start. 

Many employees will seek to take at least seven working days off over Christmas. So you need to allow enough time for leave to be requested, decisions to be made and approval or refusal to be given. 

A good way to make decisions quickly, is to hold team meetings. This allows you to communicate the cover you need and identify anyone who’s willing to work. If you’ve got sufficient voluntary cover, this could resolve any issues before they arise. 

# 2 – Use Technology 

Christmas is often a quiet period for many businesses, which could make home working a great way to keep your doors virtually open.  

If you produce physical goods, it’s likely that you’ll shut production down over the festive period, although you might require someone to answer emails and calls. This kind of work can easily be carried out from home if you have the relevant call divert and IT systems. 

Service businesses are also well placed to enable employees to work from home given the right technology. But you’ll need to trust employees to work from a convenient location – whether that’s their own home or a relative’s.  

This approach sends a good signal about your level of confidence in your staff. And by enabling those who support the business to work flexibly, potentially even with reduced hours to fit around other commitments, your team will thank you for it.  

# 3 – Be Firm, Flexible and Fair When Managing Staff Holidays

As an employer you are legally entitled to prevent employees from taking holiday. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be human. Being clear about what’s required and giving everyone the same opportunity to have time off is a good way to be firm but fair.  

If there’s one person who always gets their holiday request in early, let them know that you need to ensure everyone has an equitable chance of doing the same. Ask all staff to put in their requests by an agreed deadline and let everyone know you’ll make a decision with all the information to hand.  

If you do need someone to sacrifice their holiday, you could tell them that they’ll be first in line for summer holiday requests.  

Or ask employees to choose between time off over Christmas or New Year. This could work well if some of your workforce have young children as they’re more likely to prioritise Christmas. Those without kids might be happier to have time off to celebrate new year. 

Christmas holiday pressure is also another reason for ensuring staff diversity. Non-Christians could be happy to work over the Christmas period in return for time off at other times of the year. For example, to cover their own religious festivals. 

By showing employees that everyone is being treated in line with the same rules, they’re less likely to feel resentful if they don’t get the time off they want.  

With most people celebrating Christmas, you’re bound to have managing staff holidays on the to do list and get a deluge of holiday requests. Putting a fair plan in place well in advance is vital to ensure employee engagement and business continuity. 

If you need pragmatic advice on any HR topic, get in touch on 0330 555 1139 or at hello@crossehr.co.uk