People opening presents at a workplace office at Christmas

9 of the Worst Employer Christmas Mistakes

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There are a few employer Christmas mistakes you can make that can cause stress for yourself and your staff this year. Some are easily fixed with some extra work, but others are more severe. From missing wage payments to cutting bonuses, here are a few of the worst ones.

Letting Standards Skip 

Christmas is a great time of year when we can relax and have some fun, especially at work. No one likes a Scrooge, and we all love a jovial boss. But the fact remains that your business is a business and must always remain professional. Letting standards slip, even if they are for the right reasons such as celebrating Xmas, can get you into a lot of hot water. Your employers’ liability insurance really comes in handy if an employee trips over carelessly placed Xmas lights.

Employer Christmas Mistakes Includes Pay

Christmas can be one of the most wonderful times of the year. But it can also be a time of great stress for people struggling financially and emotionally. A survey in the UK found that money worries at work cost businesses over £10 billion per year. Your employees, exempt and non-exempt, need to know about how their pay will be made during the period. If there are any issues with dates or non-payment, these need immediate attention to avoid Xmas heartache.

A Disorganised Christmas Party

The Christmas office party is something many love and some dread. Organising one is also a job in itself because you can’t really please everybody. Consider whether you need one at all and whether the money could be used for something better such as a small bonus for your staff. Of course, a well-organised office party, whether internal or somewhere else, can help staff members bond. But also ask whether your employees should mix business with pleasure.

Showing Favour with Certain Employees

Favouritism behaviour at work is one of the worst things a business can experience. Goof management training roots this out, and there should always be a line between employer or manager and employee. It may not seem like a big deal, but small things like giving certain people better shifts or days off over Christmas are inappropriate and isolate other workers. And if you are buying a gift for someone, then why not bring a present for everyone else?

The Many HR Issues That Can Happen

The HR team can get a little overwhelmed when there are certain holidays, and Christmas can be one of the most confusing. This is mainly because there are so many public holidays between Xmas and New Year, and working out time off and pay causes some office issues:

  • Confusion over whether some days are public holidays or annual leave.
  • Getting the dates of the public holidays mixed up because of things like “Mondayisation”.
  • Not realising employees have enough annual leave until the last minute.
  • Not paying enough annual leave and holiday pay to former employees.
  • Not budgeting to cover the costs over the shutdown period of Christmas and New Year.
  • Messing up the rotas of employees who are supposed to be in over the Holidays.

It can feel like there are a million things to do over the Xmas period, but rushing will only increase the mistakes. Of course, HR is entitled to their time off, too, so it is a huge responsibility to ensure that all goes well and that workers are paid correctly during the holidays.

Letting People Go During the Holidays

Letting people go is part of running a business. But there is a right and wrong way to do it. Firing someone at Christmas will be viewed as a heartless act by the public. So unless there has been something especially egregious, it can probably wait until a few weeks into the new year. Would you really want to ruin a family’s Christmas for something that can be sorted out easily and fairly later on? Put all emotion aside and consider whether this is really the best course of action.

Putting Off Health and Safety Checks

It can get exciting as we get closer to Christmas. The day itself is so much fun, but just getting some quality time off is enough to make us giddy. And when we get like this, we can sometimes forget about our responsibilities as employers and employees. And big mistakes can happen when we feel like this. Health and safety are ongoing issues and are never to be put aside for any reason. You really don’t want your business to be part of Xmas news for the wrong reasons.

Bonuses and Employer Christmas Mistakes

Just like Clark Griswold from National Lampoon’s Christmas, some people rely on their bonuses to cover them for the period, given the increased expenses. Bankers and certain CEOs aside, some are not receiving bonuses as fewer and fewer of us are getting used to cuts. In fact, around 53% of businesses ditched bonus payments in 2022, so why would 2023, a worse year, be any different? You must handle this well and inform employees of this before December 20th.

Offending People’s Religious Views

Xmas is a time of goodwill, and most of us remember that. But it can also feel exclusionary as a religious festival celebrating the birth of Christ. Although Xmas is for everyone, and many of us love the story of Santa Claus, the religious side of it can offend some people. So, while a glittering Christmas tree for the office is likely fine for most people, a huge diorama depicting the birth of Jesus could be offensive to staff from different religious cultures or backgrounds.


Letting standards slip as you get excited about the holidays is one of the worst employer Christmas mistakes you can make. Being too pally with certain staff members is also an unfair act, and HR can make many mistakes. It also helps to keep Xmas as inclusive as you can by keeping it about Santa and the tree without bringing the religious side of things into it.

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