Avoiding Christmas party HR disasters

Avoiding Christmas party HR disasters

A message from our Industry Partner, Employsure

‘Tis the season to be jolly and as workplaces around Australia wind down for another year, employers and HR managers are turning their minds to one of the most fraught events on the professional working calendar: the Christmas Party.

Over the next few weeks Australian workplaces will take a moment to indulge in some festive revelry. In most cases the Christmas Party is a harmless get-together amongst colleagues. In other cases, however, they can turn into a horror story littered with alcohol-fuelled incidents that leave everyone red-faced.

There’s the story of one project coordinator at an engineering firm who, in a drunken Christmas Party spree, threw a colleague into a swimming pool before punching a senior manager who’d asked him to leave. He was sacked by his employer, a decision that was upheld when the employee instigated an Unfair Dismissal claim.

However, there’s also the story of a team leader at major asset maintenance company who swore at a Director, forcibly kissed a female colleague and made several unwanted sexual advances towards another. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he was sacked. Yet he claimed to be unfairly dismissed, and the Fair Work Commission agreed with him because his company had not followed procedural fairness in his dismissal. This dismissal was overturned.

While no-one likes a Grinch, the Christmas Party presents a HR headache for employers who want to celebrate with staff and reward their hard work. It’s a difficult task: how do you pull off a great event without enabling unruly staff behaviour that could potentially have long term consequences for the business, professional relationships and individual careers?

Here’s some tips on how to organise a safe, fun Christmas Party without becoming Scrooge.

Have A Policy, And Remind Employees About Your Expectations

Your duty of care to employees extends to work-related events, and this includes the Christmas Party. At the very least you should have a policy that clearly outlines employees’ obligations and expected standards of conduct at work related events. In the lead up to the party make sure staff are reminded of standards of acceptable behaviour and their obligations to comply with Company policies, particularly those relating to matters such as bullying and harassment, drugs and alcohol in the workplace and health and safety.

The policies should be made available to all staff prior to the event. Staff should also be made aware of the start/finish times of the party and that any activities carried out after these times are not an extension of the Christmas party.

Cater For Everybody

While it’s easy to picture the staff Christmas Party as a boozy affair, a heavy drinking session isn’t everyone’s idea of fun. Others may not drink at all, and perhaps some employees don’t celebrate Christmas. It’s important to think of all the different ways to celebrate the occasion and offer a variety food, drink and entertainment options so that everyone has the opportunity to participate.

Don’t Enable Binge Drinking

It’s perhaps no coincidence that some of the biggest Christmas Party horror stories come from events where employers had offered an open bar. It’s a recipe for over-indulgence and invites trouble.

Offering drink tokens, smaller bar tabs or even asking staff to contribute to the cost of their own drinks (yes, it’s ok to make them pay) are ways to encourage people to take more responsibility with their consumption.

Give People Transport Options

The time and location of the party is important and can often dictate how much people drink and how late they stay out. If you’re hosting an evening party certain taxi companies offer discounts and booking vouchers for company events, while a day-time Christmas Party means public transport will still be a viable option for people needing to get home after the event.

Designate Some ‘Sober Staff’

Many companies have designated ‘Sober Staff’ at the Christmas Party, someone (usually from the senior ranks) who can monitor staff conduct and quickly enact a strategy to quell boozy behaviour by calling a taxi for a drunk employee or directing them to leave where necessary. For the designated Sober Staff it means swapping the booze for some Orange Juice, but it can save a stack of HR headaches and gives the company a front-line defence against any employee who starts to overstep the boundaries of acceptable behaviour.

Know What To Do In The Event Of An Incident

Sometimes even the best laid plans are no match for the potent mix of boisterous staff and free-flowing alcohol. Incidents do happen, and some of them are serious. And while it can seem like instant sacking is warranted, as we’ve seen from the cases above, dismissal isn’t always an open-and-shut case. Get advice on preparing appropriate policies, how to investigate any incidents, and the disciplinary process that applies to your situation.

KBDi has partnered with Employsure to help take the headache out of workplace relations. Contact our office today (phone 1300 253 223) to find out how your KBDi Membership will help you with HR solutions.

Stress – inflicted on us by others or self-imposed?

Stress – inflicted on us by others or self-imposed?

In this article, Ron Redman (Redman Training & Development) shares some timely perspectives on reacting to stressful situations.

As we approach the end of 2019, I’m sure many would reflect on ‘what a year it has been!’.

For Debra and I, 2019 has presented an array of feelings, experiences and life lessons, along with unforgettably joyful moments.

Our business, Redman Training & Development – still in its infancy – has provided us with wonderful challenges and at the same time, fulfilment. We are grateful to all the workshop participants, industry groups such as KBDi and our individual coaching clients for the trust they have placed in us. 

We have also been faced with stress through various situations: workshop equipment not working as expected, rooms and resources unavailable, flight delays … and I could go on.

With regard to the last mentioned challenge, my flight to Sydney this week was delayed through a technical problem. In that moment of announcement, I had a choice of how I would respond or behave. (Refer our article on choice published in KBDi earlier this year). 

My choice was to either get angry, or accept the situation as out of my control, then place trust in the fault being rectified as quickly as possible. Personally, I would much prefer any problem with an aircraft being attended to prior to take-off rather than at 10,000 metres up. 

Being a bit of a ‘people person’, I found it interesting to observe how some other passengers in the lounge responded to the news. I must say the majority responded well with little sign of stress.

There were some, however, who were noticeably agitated and stressed. Now, I am not going to negatively judge their behaviour. I had no idea of their personal circumstances and in that moment their situation may well have held very concerning issues. These people were stressed, and their day and interactions would be effected accordingly.

On a positive note, what I did observe was quite a number of passengers using the time productively: connecting with others, possibly people they had never met now thrown in to a commonly shared experience. Others like me used the time to make some overdue phone calls, catch up with some tasks. It’s amazing how much can be achieved in an airport lounge.

Reflecting back on this experience, my choice to trust and not let the situation place me under stress resulted in a very productive day. The plans I had were rescheduled or dealt with over the phone.

I have arrived at an understanding that the level of stress we experience is self-imposed. Research from many neurological sources tells us that a certain level of stress, called Eu-stress, is a normal part of life and can positively motivate us to take an action, however, if we allow our stress levels to get out of control we become de-motivated resulting in not achieving our desired goals and outcomes.

We appeal to all not to let stress impact on your opportunity this year to have valuable connection time with family and friends this holiday period.

There is valuable support available through many well publicised sources. You only need to have the courage to ask for it.

Our wish to all who read this, all of our friends and contacts within the Australian Kitchen, Bathroom and Furniture industry is for a joyous stress-free holiday period.

We look forward to being of service in 2020. 

Debra & Ron Redman

Redman Training & Development


Ph: +61411720954

Grout lines and tile layouts

Grout lines and tile layouts

While grouting is not always discussed in great depth at the design consultancy stage, it is frequently a point of contention when the tiling work is finished. Most tile retailers will confirm that ‘misaligned grout lines’ is their number one consumer complaint.

We’ve create a Technical Bulletin to help you keep on top of your tiling layouts and avoid disputes down the track. The Bulletin answers questions like:

  • What is grout and why is necessary?
  • Why do joint widths (grout lines) matter?
  • What are the ‘rules’ around joint widths (Australian Standards)?

This Bulletin will be a great resource to add to your library. Complete the form below and we’ll verify your Membership and get a copy to you ASAP. Alternatively, use the link we sent you a little while back (emailed to Members last month) and you’ll get access to all of our 2019 Bulletins in your own time.

Request for Technical Bulletin

How to light up your interiors

How to light up your interiors

Decorating and redesigning your client’s home interior is not only about placing the right furniture or giving the walls and floors an elegant finish. You may spend loads of your client’s money on these things, but the finished interior could be a little lacklustre without well thought out lighting elements.

Good lighting, when matched strategically with furniture, upholstery, and finishes, can significantly enhance the beauty of your interiors. While in the past selecting lighting may have been an expensive ‘trial and error’ exercise, today it’s a simple case of combining the following tips with your 3D rendering tools.

Four ways to light up a room

Enhance Finishes

Wall colours can be enhanced with carefully selected lighting. A yellow (warm) light will make red, orange and yellow hues more vivid, but will subdue or mute blues and greens. Cool lights, on the other hand, will enrich colours on the cooler end of the spectrum.

Layered lighting can allow a variety of moods within one space. For instance, for a warm and cozy glow, play with positioning lampshades with a yellow (warm) tinted bulb at the corners of a room. To brighten up and enliven the same space, locate a vibrant fluorescent bulb in the centre of the room – on separate switching, of course – and see how the area is affected.

Illuminate with Style

The primary purpose of interior lighting is to illuminate the room. You can, however, add some decorative style with a variety of luminaires.

Take, for example, a chandelier in the foyer of your client’s home. It will offer bright and practical lighting for the entrance, while at the same time oozing elegance and class. A plain LED bulb would illuminate the space, but could be a missed opportunity for making a statement.

Highlight Elements in the Room

If you’ve spent time, effort, and a chunk of your client’s budget to design an eye-catching gallery, but haven’t carefully considered the lighting in this space, you could be doomed for a fail.

When preparing your CAD renders, experiment with various angles of light, and demonstrate to your client how their gallery walls will be highlighted in precisely the right spots.

Create the Illusion of Space

In condominium units or tiny flats, lighting is particularly important. Natural lighting in multi-residential developments can often be lacking, making an already small space look even more confined. With artfully rendered interior images, you can demonstrate to your clients how an enlarged window, new opening and thoughtful lighting plan can combine to create the illusion of an expanded space.

There are many ways to make lighting work to great effect in your clients’ homes. With a little understanding and creativity, and the powerful tool (literally) at your fingertips, you’ll be lighting up each and every project.

Contact Cabinets by Computer to find out how you can implement lightning effects using our 3D kitchen design software, KD – Max.