Organising the Christmas party can often be a headache, rather than a celebration. You need to be aware of potential risks such as sexual harassment, religious discrimination, alcohol-fuelled fights and post-party absenteeism. But by taking simple steps to ensure you protect your employees’ wellbeing, you can avoid the potential for costly litigation should things go wrong.
7 Tips for Managing the Office Party
- If you choose to hold the event externally, choose somewhere that is safe and is easy to access for your employees. Ask to reserve a dedicated area that will remain under your control throughout the event.
- Remind everyone of your policies, so that people know the company rules apply outside the office too. When it comes to social networking and uploading photographs, ensure your policy on email and internet usage extends to work-related events.
- As an employer, you could be held responsible for an employee driving home after an office party, so look at how employees will get home. Prior to the event, you can issue advice about not drinking and driving and remind employees to organise their trip home. You could also provide them with the numbers of local taxi firms. Advise staff that they should drink in moderation. Consider using a ticketing system to limit the free alcohol and provide non-alcoholic drinks for young workers and the teetotal, and to curb excess drinking.
- Be clear about your expectations regarding absence from work the morning after. Staff should know the extent to which you will be lenient about coming to work late.
- Ask employees about any dietary requirements, e.g. allergies, vegetarian or diabetic, so that these can be catered for.
- Keep fresh party food in the fridge, e.g. meats, trifles, cheese and do not leave them out at room temperature for more than 4 hours, otherwise, they can make people ill.
- Make clear what is and what is not acceptable behaviour and inform staff of the procedures and consequences should their behaviour be unacceptable. Ask some senior members of staff to be alcohol free so that they can deal with any unacceptable behaviour that arises.
Planning health and safety before the event will help things run smoothly, so remember to relax and enjoy the festivities!