So, another year draws to a close and with it comes the office Christmas party. You wonder if Maureen will again believe she can belt out a tune like Whitney Houston. And what about Barry, will he have to be physically removed like last year before he takes out his frustration on Bob.
The annual office Christmas party is a fantastic opportunity to reward staff for their hard work all year and can be a chance for everyone to relax, unwind and enjoy one another’s company outside of the office environment.
But as you may have learnt from attending your fair share of Christmas parties, alcohol mixed with conflicting personalities, simmering tensions or just plain foolish behaviour can all lead to the office Christmas party being remembered for all the wrong reasons.
What many employers don’t realise is workplace behaviour policies that apply all year apply equally to work-sanctioned Christmas parties. The most common problems associated with workplace Christmas parties are:
- Sexual harassment
- Safe Travel from the function
- Reputational damage.
Before you find yourself dealing with the fall-out of the Christmas party, make sure all staff attending are aware of the guidelines governing the event.
- This is a work function – although your staff will not be sitting at their desks doing work, the party is still work-related. Staff need to understand the rules of behaviour in the workplace also exist during the party. You wouldn’t verbally abuse the trainee at work, so don’t do it at the party.
- Staff responsibilities – ensure all staff receive an email prior to the event to remind them of their responsibilities at the party. Bring their attention to your policies in relation to bullying, harassment, sexual harassment, victimisation, discrimination, victimisation and code of conduct. These will all apply during the party and your staff need to know these policies will form the basis of any disciplinary action if required. While certain behaviours may not fall under misconduct, remind staff they will be representing represent the company and overenthusiastic celebrations can still cause reputational damage.
- It’s time to go – set a start and finish time for the Christmas party. This is not an all-nighter!
- Serving alcohol – when serving alcohol, make sure there are plenty of non-alcoholic drinks available. Also, make sure the food being served has some substance to it and is not just cheese and crackers. Skimping on food costs will not work in your favour; filling the void with alcohol and no or little food is not a good mix.
- Supervision – although it may sound like you are holding a teenager’s party, it is very important to have a person responsible for supervising the event. This means no alcohol for them. They need a clear head to be able to step in if needed and keep the event incident free.
- Transport – if you are serving alcohol, one option is to organise transport to/from the event for your staff – e.g.: hire a mini-bus… it adds to the atmosphere of the night and you know everyone will arrive home safe and sound. Most importantly, don’t let any intoxicated person behind the wheel. Alternatively, you might like to advise people of the contact details for a taxi service or an Uber.
Prior to the Christmas party, it is best to review your grievance and complaints process on the off-chance issues may arise during the party that need to be dealt with. Make sure you document all incidents, no matter how small, in case further issues arise later.
Last but certainly not least, confirm your business insurance covers any claims that may be lodged as a result of the party.
Enjoy and make sure your Christmas Party is remembered for all the right reasons.
If you need more information, then get in contact with Akyra Strategy and Development for an obligation free consultation.
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