The season of giving: Managing Kris Kringle and workplace giving this Christmas

Wednesday December 11, 2019

The Christmas countdown is in full swing. And after the mad rush to bag a bargain or two in the Black Friday sales, attention for many turns to the season of giving. Whether that’s in the form of dressing up as Santa for a local charity run, or stocking up on the perfect presents for friends and loved ones. Generosity is prevalent now more than any other time of year.

The spirit of Christmas and goodwill is present in most businesses too. Decorations are up, chocolate is never in short supply and employees can be overheard discussing seasonal fundraisers or seen pulling names out of a hat for the legendary Kris Kringle gift exchange.

Employing staff who are positively engaged in charitable causes or keen to participate in some festive fun is great. So why might it feel like a warning from HR is about to follow?

Do you hear what I hear?

It might not be until you overhear “you shouldn’t have, no, you really shouldn’t have” to realise that your company’s Kris Kringle has been spoiled by a Scrooge. Or catching a charitable team leader, about to host an important external meeting dressed as an elf, to understand that some festive activity may have gone awry.

Whilst most efforts to embrace the festive season are fuelled by good intentions and are usually well received, there can be times when it goes wrong. Or worse, sabotaged by an employee with a grudge. 

If you’d like to reduce your risk of being caught up with some Christmas themed awkwardness, we suggest keeping hold of the reins on gifting, games and charitable activity in your business. Read on for some simple tips on how to do so. 

Kris Kringle: Check off that Christmas list

Kris Kringle can be lots of fun. But a gifting blunder could result in an employee being embarrassed or extremely offended, leaving you with an HR nightmare before Christmas. Creating and circulating some simple rules can help to prevent this. 

Set a budget for those taking part to keep control of spending and reduce the risk of employees going overboard on gifts. Good stocking fillers can usually be found for under $20.

Invite everyone but make participation voluntary. Not everyone will feel comfortable buying a gift for someone they don’t know too well, whereas others might not have factored the game into their Christmas budget.

Think about providing a gift guide or ask employees to add reasonable requests to a wish list. It’s wise to avoid alcohol to respect those who don’t drink, steer clear of fragrance, body products, jewellery or undergarments. Inappropriate gifts should be banned outright.

Fundraising: Spread a smile of joy

Charitable efforts in the workplace can boost morale and be great for team building. They also need to be well thought out so as not to disrupt the day-to-day functions of your business.

Much like Kris Kringle, it’s possible that not everyone will be keen to take part, so whilst it’s important to invite everybody, be mindful not to push the message too much and explain that participation with company fundraising activities is optional. 

If the activity involves your team being in fancy dress, think about who might be visiting that day. Or if a large group are walking all night for charity, will you be short staffed in the morning?

When it comes to your charity of choice, why not ask for suggestions from staff and propose a vote? Not only does this show that you care, but you may also get more uptake from employees.

For those budding fundraisers amongst your staff who are keen to circulate their individual efforts, you could provide a bulletin board in the staff room to avoid inbox overload. Or, if your workplace giving policy prohibits this, why not recruit them into helping to organise your annual company fundraiser? This can provide an appropriate outlet for their enthusiasm.

Have a holly jolly Christmas this year

With a little people management planning, the festive season can be a wonderful time in the workplace. There are plenty of opportunities for team building, inclusivity and employee engagement, as well as lots of fun! If you’d like to talk through how to safely navigate the season of giving in your business, get in touch. We’ll tell you what you can do rather than what you can’t.

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