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HR Professionals guide to Surviving the Works’ Christmas Party

It’s quite simple really, when you work in HR everyone else in the organisation will expect a different, higher standard of behaviour from you than they accept from people in other departments or even of themselves. It is something to do with being seen as the conscience of the organisation, etc.

Never is this truer than at Christmas, when other people can let their hair down at the Works Christmas party the HR team will be expected to be the embodiment of corporate propriety.

So, what does that mean for HR professionals?

You are at Work – More than any other employee you are at work and have specific responsibilities. You might have to:

  • Rescue the managing director from the amorous advances of Charlie from accounts who has had a crush on her all year.
  • Calm a bit of domestic between Beryl and her husband
  • Organise an early taxi for Bob and his wife because their baby sitter has telephoned from the hospital
  • Stop a disciplinary situation from developing.

Organisation – You’ll undoubtedly have been involved in the organisation of the event so make sure that you have included something that enables you to have some fun whilst also fulfilling your responsibilities.

Work the Room – work out if there are people it would be useful to meet. Maybe there is someone you want to thank or someone who deserves an apology. Try to show them that you are more than your job title, the party could be a great place to start building a relationship with them.

Faces to Names – use the party to get to know the people you normally only speak to on the phone or via email. It is amazing how much easier it is to work with people once we can put a face to a name and have had a bit of fun together.

Meet the Boss – many managers only engage with HR people when they have a problem, so use the party as a way to get to know line managers on a human level, and of course for them to get to know you in the same way.

Perhaps you can discover a shared out of work interest? It’s an opportunity to build a relationship that can be beneficial in the future.

Team Player – HR people can be seen as the police officers of the organisation but attending the party and being seen to have a good time, and helping other people to have a good time will show that you are a member of the team and a team player.

Keep it Light – make sure that you are not talking about work all night, keep your conversations light hearted and fun. Do not allow an employee who has been emboldened by a conversation with John Smith to draw you into a conversation about why they did not get the promotion that they so deserve.

Avoid the Politics – Under no circumstances should anyone, regardless of how junior their role is ever get involved in any office gossip or political game playing. As soon as you do your credibility is gone!

When outside of a conversation with a line manager always talk positively about every employee.

Follow-up – employees, or indeed their partners may mention something to you that they would not mention at work, but it could be something that you need to log and follow-up later.

Partner rules – It’s always difficult going to a partner’s works party, and even more so for the partner of a HR professional.

Make sure that your partner knows

  • You are taking them to work, and that you appreciate them giving up their time to support you.
  • Employees often have grudges with HR and that if anyone says anything, they should try not to react to it
  • Not to drink or eat too much – make them the nominated driver
  • Who they really need to be nice to
  • Not to drink or eat too much – it’s worth repeating

Hopefully you will remember all of these little rules and not let your work responsibilities prevent you from having a good time.

Later in the week you can have a good night out with your mates.

Do you have any little rules you follow to make sure that you enjoy being the HR professional at social events connected with work?


During a career as a human resources and employee development professional that started in 1981 Michael Millward has worked around the world in a wide range of businesses from start-ups to major conglomerates. His industry experience includes, local and national government, manufacturing, financial services, retail, distribution, hi-tech, e-commerce.

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