Secrets to surviving the office party


Secrets to surviving the office party


It’s crept up on us again, that time of the year of the work xmas party. Lots of us may be cutting back & not throwing wild & extravagant bashes for our employees, but almost every company will be having some sort of holiday get-together. We’ve put together a list of 8 top tips to get you through yours…

We’re not trying to be a party pooper… this is the night your supposed to let your hair down, have fun with your co-workers & employees, but you’ve got to strike that balance. Have too much fun & you might find yourself in a spot of bother!

You’ll want to encourage all your staff to attend the Christmas party, but don’t make it a written rule that everyone has to. Remember Christmas is a Christian holiday & some members of staff may not want to come along due to religious beliefs. If this is the case in your company, why not scrap the ‘xmas’ theme & just make it a staff night out? Remember that if your get-together is out of office hours, some people may not be able to come due to family responsibilities.

If your party involves staff bringing along a ‘secret santa’ gift, you might want to ask that all gifts be non-offensive. We’ve all been at that party where ‘Annie the Office Accountant’ gets a saucy little number from Ann Summers, & while we’re sure Annie would see the funny side, some inappropriate gifts have sparked complaints in the past & could be seen as harassment.

If you’re inviting employees’ partners to the event, the invitation should include partners of the opposite and same sex, as well as husbands and wives, to avoid potential sexual orientation discrimination claims. You should also extend the invitation to any employees on family related leave (i.e. maternity or paternity leave), or those absent through illness or injury.

Avoid what’s known as ‘tipple tattle’. Don’t discuss promotion, career prospects or salary with employees or talk about any issues, which would be more suited to a formal appraisal or private meeting.

Be careful if you provide free drink or put a credit card behind a bar. Most tribunal claims after office parties are as a result of excessive drinking & inappropriate behaviour, more commonly with employees claiming sexual harassment or acts of violence. Try & limit the amount of alcohol that’s provided & encourage your staff to act responsibly, keep an eye out for the office junior and don’t allow under-18s to drink.

Your employment policies on bullying, harassment & discrimination still apply at the office party. Make sure everyone knows this, what the policies are & what is expected of them. An innocent comment or advance under the mistletoe between co-workers could end up costing you as the employer, if a tribunal were to characterize the behaviour as victimization or harassment.

If employees are at a party drinking alcohol provided by you, then you are responsible for them & their actions. If a member of staff has clearly drunk too much & is planning on driving home then you, as their employer needs to take responsibility. Consider organizing a mini-bus to get employees home safely or provide numbers for local taxi firms.

Disciplinary issues can often arise when employees fail to show up for work the morning after a party, more often for alcohol related reasons. On occasions such as this, your normal disciplinary rules for unauthorized absence should be applied. Employees should be warned of the consequences of pulling a sickie the day after. Make sure you provide plenty of non-alcoholic drinks and food at the party to minimize this risk.


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