Office Christmas parties have gained quite the reputation for plenty of drinking and creating office gossip – but sometimes, the inappropriate behaviour can go too far. It’s likely that most office Christmas parties will take place outside of work hours, so do work policies still apply? And what type of behaviour is acceptable?

We undertook some research into the behaviour of over 1,000 UK employees across eight sectors to find out just what our Christmas party antics involve.

How have UK employees behaved in the past?

  • Almost 30% of employees admitted flirting with a work colleague at an office Christmas party
  • Over 1 in 4 have kissed a colleague
  • 1 in 10 have drank so much alcohol that they didn’t turn up for work the next day
  • 1 in 5 employees working in the property sector admitted they’d had an argument with their other half following a photo or status they’ve been tagged in on Facebook at a work Christmas party
  • 1 in 4 travel employees have waited until the Christmas party to tell a colleague they like them
  • 14% of energy & utilities workers have been dumped by their partner following their Christmas party behaviour
  • 1 in 10 in the property sector have received a written or verbal warning after a Christmas party at work, and 8% have even been fired

With the influence and popularity of social media, it’s a strong possibility nowadays that any inappropriate behaviour at office Christmas parties can make its way online, potentially both professional and company reputations.

How are UK employees planning to behave this year?

  • 1 in 5 fully expect that they’ll say or do something embarrassing at this year’s party
  • 1 in 10 are planning on using the opportunity to tell a fellow colleague that they like them
  • 15% are going to change their Facebook settings before the party so that they have to approve a ‘tag’ in a photo or status
  • A worried 10% of travel employees aren’t even going to their work Christmas party this year for fear of doing something embarrassing
  • 14% of energy & utilities employees are going to use the Christmas party to confront a colleague or tell them they don’t like them
  • 1 in 4 UK employees have stated they will “drink less” at this year’s Christmas party to limit the chance of them doing or saying something embarrassing

How should companies prepare?

Ultimately, your employees are a risk to your company’s reputation – if you’ve never made it clear how they should and shouldn’t behave at company events and on social media (even on their personal accounts in their personal time) then you’re at risk.

The best thing companies can do is set some guidelines or a policy for staff, which clearly outlines what behaviour is and isn’t acceptable. There’ve been many recent high-profile cases of employees tweeting something ill-judged which has then brought their company into disrepute.

By educating your staff on what is and isn’t tolerated and the consequences of breaching the guidelines, you’re immediately limiting that risk of finding yourself in a social media crisis.

Not only this, but by setting some guidelines in place, you’re helping to look after your staff and avoid any HR issues where someone may have said something inappropriate to a co-worker for example.

Take a look at this free guide download here which outlines how companies can easily implement a social media policy and avoid a reputation-damaging crisis.


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