Imagine that you invite someone to your house, lock the door and beat them severely every single day for 12 weeks. At the end of 12 weeks, when this person is completely traumatised, mentally and physically broken, detached from reality and in need of medical attention, invite 200 people over for a party. Stick a glass of wine in the hand of the person whose life you’ve all but destroyed and shove them into the middle of the room to deal with questions such as ‘so, how did you enjoy your first few months?’ and ‘what are you doing for Christmas’?
The person will struggle. They will stare around them, unable to comprehend what is going on. They will stare at people eating dinner and dancing like they’ve never seen that before. It will be awful. They will not add to the festive atmosphere.
I had conversations like this:
Person who presumably realises what they’ve just put me through (festively): So, what are your plans for Christmas?
Me (takes question completely literally and at face value, failing to recognise it as rhetorical): Uh, well I do in fact have plans for Christmas and I don’t think I can face it. I haven’t got anything left to give. I am just desperate to clean my house and get my business back on the road. It is going to take two weeks to get my life back on track. (thinks of dark flat with swarm of flies in the kitchen, feels ill, wants to cry, probably looks like it)
Person: (looks stumped, then rallies) I am going on holiday!
It was bad. I had no idea what I was doing there and I was very upset. I drank a glass of wine to see if would make me remember what parties are supposed to be like, but it made me feel even more emotionally unstable so when the colleague who understands me the most told me it was okay to go home, I went home. Then I cried a lot and was extremely tense and angry and couldn’t sleep until 3am.
Now it’s Saturday morning and my face is full of fluid because I cried all night and I have to spend the whole day cleaning and hiding from text messages and emails just so I can have some time to sanitise this place before I get Ebola or something.
So that’s my top tip for employers at Christmas time. Don’t abuse your staff so badly that their physical health collapses and they become incapable of understanding activities that are not work, then oblige them to attend a party and expect festive results.