‘Tis the season of office parties. This means lots of food, music, team bonding and sometimes, alcohol. What could possibly go wrong?
According to a number of online sources, Christmas parties can cause concern for employers on 3 grounds:
1.Drunk and Disorderly Behaviour
2.Violence and/or Sexual Harassment
How can you protect your staff and your business?
It is vital to remember that staff attending an office party are, in effect, still at work. They are just offsite. Therefore, whether you have a non-alcohol policy or a policy that covers alcohol at work, it would be a good idea to remind your staff that the company policy will still apply. Furthermore, they will be expected to adhere to the usual code of conduct.
It might also be a good idea to forego a free bar. Either that or limit the length of the party so as to avoid putting your employees in a situation where they lose track of time and their alcohol intake.
For sure, it is worth asking at least 2 managers to be your designated drivers. That might be actual drivers or metaphorical drivers who remain sober enough to keep an eye on things. Sober managers might be able to have a quiet word and settle matters if any disputes arise.
If things do get out of hand, in the form of brawls or sexual harassment, you will, of course, have to follow the due HR process upon your return to the office.
Sickness absence is another issue that often arises if the office party falls on a school night. Limiting the alcohol flow might also help to prevent people from calling in hung over.
Some companies suggest allowing staff to start work an hour later than usual.
Let your hair down a bit and enjoy the festivities
Hopefully, though, you will all be well versed in the ways of the office party. More than this, be prepared but don’t get bogged down worrying about things that might not happen. There are numerous party survival guides for employees. This combined with the fact that they are adults means that they should have a good idea as to how to behave.
Lastly, Merry Christmas!