While most Christmas parties remain incident-free, HR disaster strikes in at least one in ten cases, with 12% requiring some form of disciplinary action. This is according to new research conducted by payroll & HR provider Moorepay.

The majority of incidents usually don't result in more than the embarassement of those involved but, in those cases where disciplinary action is required, seven out of ten businesses feel unable to deal with the situation adequately during the aftermath of a Christmas party.

Moorepay reveals the most common Christmas party disasters businesses have to deal with over the festive period:

  1. Silence is golden
Free drinks at the Christmas party can make some people very talkative and many are tempted to tell their bosses exactly what they think of them! This common occurrence might be considered brave by some, but sometimes companies are left with no other choice than to reprimand and potentially dismiss an employee as a result of their outburst.
  1. Wardrobe Malfunctions and more
While wardrobe malfunctions at Christmas parties obviously can't be helped, the second most common party issue is actually indecent exposure. Stripping off in the middle of the dance floor might seem fun at the time but it can lead to serious consequences where disciplinary action may be required depending on the severity of the incident.
  1. Break a leg
Music can make or break a good party or, in some cases, someone's limb. When the dinner tables become an extension of the dance floor, accidents can happen, resulting in broken arms or legs. Despite this being painful, and perhaps not resulting in disciplinary action, businesses are often left to find alternative resources to cover injured personnel over the festive period.
  1. Let's get physical
The combination of free drinks and the laid-back mood at Christmas parties can potentially lead to temporary office romances. While it isn't necessarily the company's business what happens between people outside the office, these personal relationships can have an impact on business interactions and team morale. In the worst cases, businesses have had to arrange mediation sessions for those involved and even moving the individuals into different working teams.
  1. Snow (fist) fight
Most companies pride themselves with allowing a bit of banter between their employees but there have been instances where that banter turns into something more serious like a brawl. Depending on the damage caused, businesses may have to issue formal warnings and even pay out compensation for damages incurred to third parties.

While such stories make for great water cooler conversations, these situations are often very sensitive and challenging for businesses to manage

Having to take disciplinary action following a Christmas party is a fine line to tread and, as our latest research has shown, many businesses don't feel adequately equipped to deal with these situations. However, guidance and advice on these tricky HR conversations is often just a phone call away and many companies offer special advice lines ahead of the Christmas period. Making use of these resources ensures that the only headache business owners will have after a Christmas party comes from having too many glasses of bubbly.

By Alison Dodd, CEO and President of Moorepay