Avoiding HR Headaches at Christmas

Your HR department will probably be a little busy at the end of the year. Not because they don’t enjoy the festivities, but because there’s a lot to think about when it comes to Christmas. It’s important to consider staff well-being, provide clear guidelines, and be encouraging and motivating to help your team cross the end-of-year finish line on a high.

Christmas policy

Every workplace has different policies when it comes to Christmas working hours, bonuses, holidays, etc. You need to make sure that you’re giving clear and realistic guidelines over the Christmas period.

If you leave it too late, it’s going to have a bad impact on employee morale. People want to plan their Christmas holidays in advance, especially if they’re travelling to see family (well, under normal circumstances anyway). And with the slightly lighter Covid Christmas guidelines, that’s still the plan for a lot of people. 

Try to be realistic – not many people will want to work over the entire Christmas period. Some employees will need a break, especially after what 2020 has thrown at them. Others might be happy working the entire way through. It’s about finding the right balance and communicating with your teams.

Motivate, encourage, include

Everyone’s exhausted by the end of the year. 

You could provide incentives like flexible working. That gives your employees space to plan for Christmas (which will probably be trickier this year) without worrying about falling behind on work.

It’s important to remember that not everyone celebrates Christmas. Make sure you don’t inadvertently discriminate by not including everyone in the festivities. And don’t go the other way by forcing them to join in either. 

It’s worthwhile to consider flexible holidays too. Some workers might prefer to work over Christmas and take the leave at a different time that’s more important to them. It’s just about knowing your staff so that everyone can be comfortable.

Another big one is saying thank you to your team. It’s important that they feel valued and appreciated.


Is it really Christmas without some presents? We all love to rip open the wrapping paper, but it’s worth taking a few things into consideration when it comes to gift-giving at work.

Communicate a clear corporate gifting and entertainment policy that’s relevant to giving and receiving. It helps to avoid accusations of bribery or favouritism. 

Secret Santa is always a fan-favourite. Everyone can be included, and it saves you spending on presents for the whole office!

January Blues 

It’s widely considered that January hosts the most depressing days of the year. With post-Christmas bills, failed New Year resolutions, short days and cold weather, it’s a recipe for discontent. 

According to research conducted by Leetchi.com, the 31st January has been found to be the day most Brits hand in their notice!

Make sure you’re thinking about staff well-being after the holiday season too. January blues are real, and people really appreciate the support.

No Christmas party

One thing you don’t have to think about this year is the office Christmas party.

Often this can make the HR Department a bit nervous. There are no guarantees when drinks are flowing. But this year, with many work-dos happening virtually, or not at all, that’s one you can cross off the list!

Remember, Christmas is about caring and community. So when it comes to HR at Christmas, if you’re starting with these values, it’s hard to go wrong. 

At the Northern Affinity, we love community, caring, and Christmas! And we’re always looking for more people to join the family. If you’re interested in joining us, we’d love to hear from you.

Will working culture change after COVID-19?

It’s safe to say the current climate we’re experiencing is completely (we’re going to say it!) unprecedented. Many of us have had to be creative with our adaptations, play a number of roles simultaneously and also take a step back to evaluate the important things. What we’re wondering is what the lasting impact of the pandemic will be on working culture when things return to ‘normal’. Will things fully go back to the way they were or will we see a sizeable change in working lives across the country?  

Realigning our mission, vision and values.

We know from speaking to a number of our partners over the past few weeks that many of us are finally ploughing through a to-do list we’ve been putting off for months. It might be finally sorting through that admin you’ve been avoiding or finally committing to a website revamp. 

But in addition to this, it’s been a great time for us all to have a hard look at who we are as a business. Mission, vision and values can often be throw away statements and not a true reflection of what we stand for. How have you handled the crisis? Does it fall in with your original mission, vision and values or have you found something else come to the surface? 

A fantastic example of this is the recent story from Great Western Hotels. When the time came to close the hotels to the public, GWH offered their rooms to key workers. Not only did this mean their staff could keep working but they also gave something back; fitting in perfectly with their values of service excellence and being a good member of the community.

Is it time for flexible working to shine? 

Seeing businesses large and small adapt to remote working over the last few weeks has been remarkable; with hoards of employees moving their entire desks to a corner of their living rooms, juggling work and family life in completely unique circumstances. 

Many will have never had the chance to work like this before. For some, it may well be their worst nightmare, for others it may be a transformational way of doing things. In the extreme, months down the line, we may see completely new operational strategies from companies. There will surely be new challenges faced by companies if these things come to pass. The remote working resistance may ease, with workers taking back agency over their own schedules. The rise in coworking may well continue to increase as employees seek out productive work spaces closer to their homes. We talked more about the growing popularity of coworking in our previous blog

There’s no doubt that certain aspects of life as we know it will change forever after the pandemic. The extent of these changes remains largely unknown, but there are certainly interesting times ahead for all of us. At The Northern Affinity, we continue to support our existing partners and welcome new businesses into the fold. Whether you continue to work remotely, return to the office or change your working life completely, we’ll be here for you! Let’s see what the future has in store for us.

The Northern Affinity Partners Meeting – Friday 31st January 2020

We enjoyed a fantastic partner event on Friday. It was a great opportunity to connect and share valuable knowledge. We will be hosting these events on the last Friday of every month at the Northern HQ

Business and Brand Strategy

Distinguishing a clear business and brand strategy can be confusing. However, we were lucky enough to hear from Brenda Etchells (Carduus Ltd) and Fliss Lee (Honest Folk) about combining the two to find the ‘sweet spot’ where your business values meet your customers values to create one cohesive strategy.

We have all experienced a business who don’t seem to practise what they preach when it comes to company values. We discussed at length the importance of defining your values; not just by using positive buzz words you think your customer wants to hear, but by delving in to what really matters to your customers and ingraining these in the way you run your business. 

Using some interesting examples, we learnt more about what makes up branding (it’s more than just a logo!) and how making some simple changes can strengthen your brand and help towards achieving your business goals.


Sales Mentality

In the afternoon, we welcomed Pete Evans (Ventas Sales) who took us through the sales process, with a difference. Identifying your sales mindset and knowing where your weaknesses are will ultimately improve your performance. Even simple things like putting your phone away before a pitch can make all the difference to your mindset when entering the room. 

One thing we often forget with sales is the importance of practising the process. Grab a friend or your business partner and go through your pitch so you’re confident before stepping into the room with the big players! There were lots of useful things to take away and I think we will all be spicing up our sales process and improving our mindsets to make sure we achieve our goals in sales.

The Northern Affinity News

Yorkshire Meetups

We are very grateful that many of you travel from far and wide to come and connect which is why we’re looking into arranging some future sessions in both Huddersfield and Harrogate to expand our community at The Northern Affinity. 

Dates for your diary: 

Our second round of peer group taster sessions will be running on Wednesday 26th February.
There will be a free open-day for hot deskers on Wednesday 27th February. Please share this with your connections who may be interested in trying out the co-working environment.
Sarah Bradley will be running a HR clinic on Wednesday 27th February for anyone wishing to discuss their HR strategy.
The next peer group coaching session for The Northern Affinity partners will be taking place on the morning of Friday 28th February before the next partner meeting. This meeting will be open for non-members to attend so please invite your connections along. Please contact Michael to reserve a space. 

For further details on The Northern Affinity and any upcoming events, please contact Michael.

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