What could go wrong? It’s just a nice little gathering of co-workers, having a few drinks….and we’ve all heard the horror stories from there. So, what should a company who wants to respect itself in the morning do?
First of all, and last of all, limit alcohol. It seems to be the root of most evil when Christmas party problems arise. There are a number of ways to do this. Having your function at a licensed premises, whose staff have Responsible Service of Alcohol training is a good start. Setting limits at the bar, per person, can help too. Make sure that there is plenty of non-alcoholic alternatives too. And put somebody in charge that is respected by staff, who has been given permission to step in and tell someone “I think you’ve had enough”. All too often everyone watches a co-worker overindulging and doesn’t know what they can do about it. And make sure that plenty of food is available to help fill tummies with something besides alcohol.
Secondly, remind everyone, whether by email, and/or a meeting, that this is a work function, and the usual policies apply. This includes fun killers such as sexual harassment policies, bullying and harassment policies and code of conduct. Again, it’s alright to monitor the party, and pull someone aside who is crossing boundaries. You may also want to remind employees of this if you have a work Kris Kringle. Lots of nasty stories and claims from this one….
Making sure employees get home safely should be a goal. Can you afford taxi vouchers or perhaps hire a bus? If you’re a small company can you nominate designated drivers that you can trust? Overnight accommodation is a big luxury, but an option used by some companies when they can afford it.
Other things to think about? You have a higher duty of care to younger employees. Too often I’ve seen young people at their first work Christmas party where they can drink, usually without limit, and it does end badly. Pair them with a responsible buddy. Permission should probably be sought before posting pics of everyone on social media. It might seem fun to the company’s social butterfly, but not everyone wants to be a star.
Run properly, just a plain old bbq with a few drinks can be one of the best ways to see in Christmas with your work mates! Don’t let the horror stories put you off thanking your employees for the year gone by. But if you do have any questions, or need to update your policies, please do call me at Kane Independent Consulting.