Christmas party fever or Christmas party fallout?

TORONTO, Dec. 13, 2023 /CNW/ – With December in full swing, employers and HR professionals are weathering a downpour of absences and sicknesses, struggling to maintain staffing levels, and one thing is intensifying the storm… the aftermath of the Christmas party.

Christmas parties are taking place every week in the run-up to the big day with Fridays being the nation’s favourite night to celebrate. And with good reason, by scheduling parties on Fridays, employees can let their hair down and enjoy the festive cheer—without worrying about the early morning alarm the next day.

But absence data from HR software firm BrightHR reveals a noteworthy trend: a significant number of employees are opting to extend their weekends by taking the Monday off after the Christmas party on the Friday. While the exact reasons behind this surge in post-party absenteeism remain speculative, Alan Price, CEO at BrightHR, delves into the possible reasons why…

“The surge in absences is likely to have something to do with a combination of festive spirits (of the alcoholic variety), a touch too much merriment, and a dash of late-night revelry… Ensue the three-day hangover and the dreaded ‘hang-xiety’.

“Friday 9 December last year was a popular day for the Christmas party—and it looks like plenty of sore heads lasted into the following Monday which saw sickness rates soar by 61% in comparison to an average Monday in 2022. A nasty case of beer fear, or the hangover from hell, perhaps?

“And another popular day for festivities—Friday 16 December—saw 55% more people take a vacation day on the following Monday, indicating that some party animals are planning their days off ahead of time to rest up and recuperate from the comfort of their own home.

“I might not have a crystal ball, but I would anticipate that this trend will ‘tipple’ into next Monday too…

“Of course, if employers experience a surge in sickness following a Christmas party, it can seem pretty suspect. But assuming an employee who calls in sick after a Christmas party is pulling a fast one can be as dangerous as drinking on an empty stomach. Genuine absences do occur, particularly as it’s the season of sniffles, but if you identify a pattern of absence, for example, an employee who calls in sick every time after an event, then you may want to investigate further.

“Employers need to allow some amount of flexibility especially as absences are rife at this time of year with winter flus and seasonal sniffles making the rounds—the term Christmas party fever could be literal. But, if it is determined that an absence is not genuine, then having robust systems to track absence rates and policies in place will discourage employees from taking advantage.

“But the best tonic to ease the HR hangover? Remind staff that the Christmas party is an extension of the workplace prior to the event, so the usual rules still apply.

“Celebrating with a few drinks at a work’s do is fine in most cases but having one too many can cause headaches – both the HR variety and otherwise – as any inappropriate behaviour can result in disciplinary action. And partaking in anything illegal is a one-way ticket to dismissal.”

About BrightHR Canada

BrightHR is a leading HR and Health & Safety software service that is transforming people management for 6,500+ clients across Canada. In addition to our award-winning HR and Health & Safety software, BrightHR saves business owners time and money by offering an extensive library of 400+ templates/documents/policies, on-demand advice by local experts, a range of e-learning courses, a free marketplace to advertise or use discount offers, plus much more.

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SOURCE BrightHR Canada

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