The 12 Risks of Christmas for Businesses

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You’re probably familiar with the joyful Christmas tune of the 12 Days of Christmas, but a new report suggests that businesses could experience the 12 Risks of Christmas instead!

Whilst potentially one of the busiest times of the year for business owners, the Christmas season often tends to be one of the most exciting for workers, with the arranging of the workplace Christmas party, the display of Christmas decorations and the unpredictable fun of the annual Secret Santa all coming to the forefront.

However, a new report from insurance provider Digital Risks suggests that amongst the fun and frivolity, businesses will still need to be on high alert and have revealed their biggest 12 risks of Christmas in the workplace.

So join us, as much like the ’12 Days of Christmas’, we present you with the ’12 Risks of Christmas’ and offer some tips on how to approach them!

The 12 Risks of Christmas

♫ In the lead up to Christmas, the risks that businesses could see… ♫

…are:

12 Social Media Slip-ups

Christmas is a time where employees like to have fun and the world of Social Media is filled with seasonal jokes, memes and other types of humour.

For companies who run Social Media accounts and have those who are employed in Social Media related roles however, it can be quite a time of trepidation, as the allure of attempting to attract attention through a controversial joke or by reacting to an inappropriate topic of conversation can prove all too tempting.

One misplaced comment or poorly executed post however, can bring with it a real Social Media storm however which could mean you losing customers and damaging your reputation at one of the most important times of the business year.

Solution:

Meet with your Social Media team or whoever is responsible for your Social Media post distribution to agree on the type of content they can cover and what subjects you want to make sure to stay away from.

Have an approval process in place so that if they are considering posting or reacting to anything that could be poor in taste, that it is sent on to be seen by yourself or other management before being put live.

11 Complaints of Bullying

It’s an unfortunate reality that bullying in the workplace still exists in today’s world and that sadly, the advent of technology means that cyber bullying has become just as common too.

During Christmas parties, it can be the case that compromising videos or photos are taken by employees in order to try and embarrass or humiliate a colleague who gets invested in the holiday spirit, perhaps beyond what some would deem as normal standards.

Therefore, cyber bullying and conflicts between colleagues at this time of year can cause a real issue for HR departments and employers to handle on top of regular business operations.

Solution:

If you notice any signs of bullying or that a worker is potentially feeling distressed, step in to try and address matters in the moment.

Also, express to employees if they are uncomfortable with how they are being treated by other colleagues, to talk with you so that the matter can be dealt with, with the option to get your HR team involved if the situation proves serious enough.

10 Fraudulent Payments

Known by many IT and Cybersecurity professionals to be a growing trend in the internet age, social engineering (such as criminals pretending to be colleagues/legitimate individuals) has caused a general rise in fraudulent payments being made by businesses.

In the heat of the moment and with other things perhaps on their mind, it’s easy for a less-than-attentive worker to assume someone on the other end of an email is who they say they are and send money or important business data over to them, causing a number of problems for businesses once the realization kicks in.

Solution:

Ask employees who are unsure of where an email may have come from or if they are suspicious of the displayed sender, to pass the email onto your IT team for further investigation.

If they are positive that the message they’ve received can be classed as spam or as a scam, then it should be deleted from their inbox and deleted again once it reaches their mailbox bin.

9 Out-Of-Office Mishaps

If the Christmas celebrations are taken outside of office walls and into the public (i.e. an organized meet up between colleagues or a Christmas themed business function), then mishaps and misdemeanors that happen in the public eye can still come back to haunt companies when everyone returns to work the next day.

Some of the biggest reported problems can be damage caused to public property and even fracases between employees and other members of the public – both of which can land companies in some serious legal trouble.

Solution:

Hold a brief talk on the day of the event or the day before it to remind employees that even though they will be outside of the workplace for some festive cheer, they are still representing their company and that correct and professional conduct will still need to be upheld throughout.

8 Copyright Infringements

Promotions, giveaways, competitions, new campaigns – Christmas is a key time for these to be launched to continue to drive sales and gain new customers.

But for marketing teams within businesses, it can be a real nightmare before Christmas when marketing materials such as slogans and images may have come from elsewhere and could be infringe on copyrights belonging to other companies or individuals.

Solution:

During the planning phases of any Christmas based promotional activities, confirm that all imagery, likenesses and branding is completely original and can’t be accused of plagiarism.

If you are creating something which uses materials from another medium (such as a well-established brand), then double-check that all matters relating to copyright and usage of intellectual property have been agreed upon in advance.

7 GDPR Blunders

Something that perhaps comes more into concern on the day after the workplace Christmas party, a simple wrong file attachment on a corporate email or an accidental email inclusion on a company wide email that puts confidential business data at risk is all it takes to receive the unwelcome holiday gift of a GDPR sanction.

The fun doesn’t always end there though, as the most severe case of data regulation breaches can impact a company’s reputation and financial standing a lot more heavily than before GDPR was introduced (just ask Google)

Solution:

Ask workers to double check every email that they send and request they perform regular checks on all of their files and any physical copies of data to ensure that there are no potential GDPR blunders that are waiting to happen on regular and ‘slower’ work days.

6 Employee Injuries

It’s not just workplace equipment and furniture at risk during the festive celebrations – employees can also be in the firing line too.

According to the HSE website, over 29% of workplace injuries are caused by slips, trips and falls which can be all too common when the party reaches its peak.

Solution:

Politely remind workers to make sure to clean up any spills caused by drinks as soon as possible and to ensure they take greater care when around other workers and the office environment.

As with regular working hours, any accidents no matter how minor, should be recorded and tracked in an Accident Book and dealt with using standard business practice.

5 Cases of Property Damage

The workplace Christmas party lends itself to being responsible for the most example cases of property or equipment damage.

Should the event even get the slightest bit out of hand, there’s a high chance that items such as laptops, computers, chairs, doors and desks can all get accidently damaged whilst workers get caught up the heat of the moment.

Solution:

Make sure that before holding a party in the workplace, that any fragile items or equipment that could be liable to breakage is moved away from the main area.

If possible, store away any items that are at particular risk or consider hosting events in a different part of the building away from electronics and office furniture.

4 IT Failures

For any eCommerce business or for companies that rely on websites and IT infrastructure in order to function, Christmas can prove to be an extremely hazardous time where technical hitches can cause financial bother.

Websites going offline, network issues and even cybersecurity breaches during this peak period can turn the most wonderful time of the year into the most stressful one.

Solution:

Ensure that data on all electronic equipment is securely backed up and that all machines are running the latest anti-virus and encryption software.

If your business has a dedicated IT department, consider holding discussions with them each month in order to discuss and analyze any new security threats and any emergency protocol to follow if the very worst IT based scenarios occur.

3 Work Standards Slipping

The Christmas season for some businesses can bring a slow-down in workload and a reduction in urgent activities.

However for most companies, Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year and can be the root cause of workers making accidental mistakes and productivity levels dipping due to more focus being placed on the most wonderful time of the year.

For client-based businesses, this can bring all kinds of headaches and apologies needing to be made.

Solution:

Remind the workforce that whilst the countdown to Christmas begins in December, the business will still need to operate as it would do in any month of the year and before the company can start organizing any festive celebrations, regular workloads need to be upheld and any urgent tasks will need to be finished.

2 Breaches of Etiquette

Whilst the Christmas Party can be a great time for workers to be able to relax and unwind after working hard all year, there’s always a danger of things getting out of hand and boundaries being crossed which is why breaches of etiquette is the penultimate of 12 Risks of Christmas.

Inappropriate jokes and unacceptable social behavior can sometimes raise their head when the festivities involve alcoholic drinks.

Solution:

Gently remind employees that while Christmas events in the workplace are a time to have fun, regular rules and conduct are still in play and that any misdemeanors will still be handled in line with company policy once the party is over.

And an Office Theft to Worry IT!

The Festive season can be the prime time for workplace (or outside of office walls) thieves to strike, which is why Digital Risks lists office thefts as the final of 12 Risks of Christmas.

Whether it’s company equipment or confidential data, businesses will need to stay sharp to avoid workplace thievery occurring during the jolliest time of the year!

Solution:
Ensure workers regularly lock their screens when away from their desks and at the end of every workday, ensure all equipment (if applicable) is safely locked away in a secure unit.

Confidential physical documents should also be locked or filed away in a lockable cupboard overnight so that they are away from unwanted prying eyes.

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Sam Rose

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