Your guide to a drama-free Christmas party

Kate Palmer - HR Advice and Consultancy Director

December 04 2018

When you sign a cheque to pay for the workplace shindig, you don’t want to see alcohol-sponsored antics that will fuel office gossip. You want your staff to enjoy themselves. After all, they’re the reason your business is a success. Here are some tips to stop the shenanigans of the Christmas party spilling over into your working relationships… Why you need an after-hours events policy If your business has regular after-hours work events, it’s a good idea to have a policy around the dos and don’ts of how staff are expected to behave. Then before your work Christmas party, you can send give your staff a gentle nudge to read your policy. Choosing your party zone Once you’ve landed on a date, you’ve got to decide on a venue. Having your Christmas party at a different place away from your work environment is always a good idea. Try and be inclusive, and choose somewhere instead of a bar so that the focus isn’t just on alcohol. When the party is in full festive swing… A sea of sequins. Mandatory mince pies. And a DJ with an unfaltering playlist featuring at least two classics from George Michael. It might take place away from your office, but most of the same rules still apply. So staff will be drinking, but they should know their limits. Even if there’s a free bar. Harassing colleagues, behaving in a discriminatory way, or taking drugs? A big no-no. If your party takes place at a remote venue, make sure at the end of the night everyone can get home. A few minibuses or pre-booked taxis will do. The after-party What happens after the party? An after-party. Maybe even an after-after-party. The Christmas party usually takes place once a year. So it’s likely some of your staff will want to go all out. But can you be responsible for what happens at an after-party, even if you’re tucked up in bed after wearing out your dancing shoes? Yes. A recent tribunal found an employer responsible when its Managing Director assaulted a colleague at an after-party. He’d been the one to organise the get-together and had paid for the drinks, even though it happened away from the party venue. Protecting your staff from harassment and abuse doesn’t stop once the Christmas party is over—make sure you remind employees of their responsibilities once they leave. The morning after the night before Holding your office party on a weeknight is a risk, unless you want to offer a late start the next day… For the troopers among your staff who make it to work, there’ll definitely be some sore heads and husky voices. As for the 3am crew, chances are they’ll phone in sick or come cruising in around midday. Your staff will know your absence reporting policies. If a mysterious bug seems to have swept through your office the day after your Christmas party, park your scepticism. Don’t make any assumptions or be too critical. There could be genuine reasons your staff have called in sick. Instead, arrange a usual return to work interview when they’re back in the office. January is blue enough without starting the New Year on a sour note. Make sure your staff stay on the right side of merry at your Christmas party.

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