It’s Holiday Party Time at the Office, and Rudolph Isn’t Taking Any More Nonsense at the Reindeer Games

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female employee heading to party with alcohol and santa hat

The holidays are here. Peace and goodwill are pushed pretty heavily during a retail season that screams for our attention, but these sensibilities should be important to us year-round at work and home.

While holiday bonuses and home-baked cookies can go a long way in spreading the holiday cheer at work, an anonymous reporting system is a gift that can simplify employee communications and help make the office a better place.

After all, ’tis the season for bad behavior at office parties. Or worse, the parties after the office parties.

Naughty or Nice?

The holidays give co-workers a chance to let their guard down and spend time together in a purely social atmosphere. Relaxing around the table with drinks, they talk about things and show sides of themselves that they normally wouldn’t with colleagues – for better or worse.

Sometimes the situation gets out of hand. A manager makes an inappropriate sexual advance toward a subordinate. A blowup breaks out between colleagues who don’t get along. Someone uses or offers a co-worker illegal drugs.

Other times it’s less blatant. An insensitive — even if not mal-intended — gesture like a forced hug, off-color joke, political rant, a remark about someone’s appearance, or pressuring someone to drink more can be taken with great offense.

Come Monday morning, it’ll fall to the company HR professionals to sort through the conflicting and sometimes exaggerated versions of a story and an attempt to render fair consequences, often leaving no one satisfied and all feeling victimized. For an employer getting wind of these incidents, the headaches are such that it may be tempting to drop them — after all, oftentimes these parties are held outside of the office and after hours.

But that could be a costly mistake.

The bad feelings from these conflicts can become corrosive to office morale, leading to low productivity and turnover. Reputations hang in the balance as rumors spread and mutate with each retelling.

“With today’s millennials, if they don’t like their work environment, they will leave and find another job,” said Neil Hooper, Chief Revenue Officer for STOPit Solutions. “Employment rates are high and so are turnover rates. It’s important to create the kind of environment that allows you to keep your employees, and quite frankly, enables you to get rid of the toxic employees.”

An anonymous reporting system for workplace issues can help achieve that by encouraging bystanders to become Upstanders with smart tech solutions delivered right into their hands.

Most of the time workers want to do the right thing and share information that can alert management to problems in the office or clear the name of a co-worker who’s being unfairly maligned. However, they don’t always feel comfortable getting involved. The STOPit app gives everyone a safe way to be courageous – to protect their colleagues’ reputations with the facts, and without any fear of reprisal.

And when facts and context are important to resolving issues — which is always — anonymous reporting is a valuable asset for company compliance officers and human resource administrators, too. Often tasked with the responsibility for creating and promoting this more ideal workplace, administrators appreciate having better access to information sources who can help them sort out facts from intentional or unintentional hyperbole as they consider the appropriate, fair, and timely response to incidents.

It can be particularly helpful in industries like retail and restaurants that see a seasonal spike in business and handle it by pushing employees to work longer hours and adding temporary staff — all serving increasingly stressed and anxious customers. When you mix the ultra-busy pace of work with an influx of new and unfamiliar personalities, and add in consumer angst, the result can be a tense environment that ignites conflicts between workers. Particularly for businesses with multiple locations or with a workforce that communicates primarily through their mobile phones, communication can be especially challenging, and apps like STOPit empower everyone with one, seamless, easy to administer reporting solution.

Baking in the Holiday Blues

It is also well known that the holidays are a time when personal stress and depression levels spike. Everyone is especially vulnerable this time of year, making it even more important to have a communications outlet like STOPit on standby in the workplace.

An American Psychological Association survey exploring the causes of holiday stress found that 67 percent of respondents saw lack of time as a major factor, 62 percent cited lack of money, 47 percent the pressure of giving/getting gifts, and 35 percent the fear of raising their credit card debts. A worker who is feeling the strain from any of those things could at least partially hold their employers or their co-workers to blame. If they’re harboring hard feelings toward their job, an office party could be combustible.

“It’s a common sitcom scenario where a young employee drinks too much and they finally say what they mean to their boss,” Hooper said. “That’s funny in a sitcom, maybe not so funny in real life. Sometimes employees are crying out and they need to chance to share what’s really going on in the workplace.”

With all of that said, there is no better time than the holidays for employers to think and act positively and start setting goals for the future. For as much as Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa are opportunities for reflection and celebrating the year’s accomplishments, the final holiday season of the year is all about looking ahead.

“I think a great New Year’s resolution is to have 2019 be the year that we finally put a stop to bad behavior in the workplace,” Hooper said.

To learn more about how Human Resource professionals are using STOPit to improve company culture and make incident reporting and management easier, call and schedule your demo.

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