Holidays are coming - so think of your co-workers

Often we complain about the Christmas party not being to our personal liking or how the decorations don’t look as good as last year
Barry Shannon

WE'RE getting into Christmas mode, with the anticipation of a well-deserved break, catching up with friends and family and perhaps getting out and about to socialise a little more than usual.

And normally, when you read a HR article at this time of year, you expect a wagging finger and a stern reminder of what not to do at the Christmas party. About how it's an extension of the workplace and yes, you really can get in trouble if you cause mischief at the company dinner.

Not this article though; I'll leave that up to your common sense and in house HR team.

Instead I would like to give you a little thought about perspective. Often we tend to complain about things like the Christmas party not being 100 per cent to our personal liking, or how the decorations don't look as good as last year.

Maybe you don't like that your company isn't doing a Secret Santa or maybe you don't like that it is doing one. Maybe it isn't closing early on Christmas Eve, or it's keeping you working flat out until 5pm on your last day before the break.

All these can be irritating, but they are essentially first world problems. No one is going to die because they serve Jack Daniels instead of Makers Mark. No one will be evicted from their home because the Christmas tree and baubles look a little bit shabby.

Instead we should maybe take some time to really think about others in our workplace. Those who may have genuine problems, not just minor irritations. For many Christmas is often not as joyful as we might think. Many can struggle greatly with trying to make ends meet. Every year toys and gifts get more expensive and expectations rise in tandem.

There is an increased demand from friends and family to go out and socialise, to go to parties, or have a few drinks in the pub. All the Christmas favourites are in the cinema. While it's great fun, it can also be a great expense and some folks simply can't afford it, or run themselves into debt trying to keep everyone happy.

Christmas can also be a very lonely time for some folks. They may have no-one at home or have experienced a loss at this time of year. Some employees may have issues with depression that can get exacerbated during the holiday season.

So in the spirit of sharing and giving, let's perhaps try to be little more thoughtful towards our co-workers around this time of year. Keep an eye out for those that seem to be a little more stressed than usual, or who perhaps those who seem a little more withdrawn. Make a gift of your time if you believe someone needs to talk.

Perhaps try taking a deep breath and counting to 10, then adopting some perspective on events if you find yourself getting irritated by someone or something. Consider workloads. If some of your colleagues are under pressure and you can lend a hand, they may just feel that's the best present they can get.

Respect peoples choices too. Sometimes folks may just not want to go out to a social function for a variety of reasons. They may be tired, have to look after the kids or just simply don't fancy it. If they say they don't want to go then don't force them.

On the flipside, remember those who may not be the most outgoing and consider if they too would perhaps like to be asked if they are too reticent to invite themselves. And finally . . . have a very Merry Christmas and a fabulous 2019.

:: Barry Shannon ( is HR director at Cayan in Belfast

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