Earlier this month we featured an article which discussed the pros and cons of the office Christmas party. In the run up to Christmas, employees are looking forward to the wild Christmas do as a time to celebrate a great year, abuse the photocopier and drink the bar dry. As an employer, we’re sure you think your team deserves to let their hair down and of course, every company is different and each one must decide what to do regarding their holiday festivities. However, just remember, you do have a duty of care to your employees and so the following blog aims to give you some top tips to staying safe when throwing the Christmas party.

1. Do your employees actually want a party?
Christmas do’s are top of the list for some people and not so much for others. At the end of the day, everyone’s different. In some cases, employees may prefer an alternative perk, such as an afternoon off, a Christmas bonus, or suchlike. So, make sure you check with your employees first and give them the opportunity to suggest different options – The last thing you want to do is make those individuals who really don’t want to attend a party, feel like they have to, as this is detrimental to team moral.

2. Set boundaries
Before the party (or any other company event for that matter), make sure you gently remind your team as to what’s expected from them when it comes to behaviour. Of course you don’t want to dampen high spirits at this special time, however, if you set the boundaries now, it will mean that there’s less chance of having to deal with the consequences after the event.

Remind your employees of your HR policies relating to harassment, discrimination, code of conduct, and behaviour at work related social events and the fact that these policies still apply at any event whereby they are representing the company. Brief your managers, or HR team and make sure employees know that while they are there to have a great time, they must not get absolutely intoxicated and risk their own or the company’s reputation.

3. Promote inter-department socialising
In our earlier blog, we noted that the office Christmas party can be the time and the place to promote teamwork and build rapport and relationships. However, more often than not, employees stick to who they know and what they know. So, to avoid this scenario and to avoid individuals feeling ostracised, why not promote inter-department (and suchlike) socialising. If you’re holding a dinner, make a seating plan or ask people to move seats after each course, to promote diverse mingling!

4. Take precautions where alcohol is concerned
Whilst employees should already be aware of their own limits, it’s important to make sure they are aware of your expectations. Bartenders should stop serving alcohol to individuals who appear to be intoxicated. Perhaps they could offer wine and beer only and steer away from spirits and mixed drinks, cocktails and shots.

5. Transportation
How are your employees getting home at the end of the evening? Of course not everyone will drink but you could consider organising transport to ensure everyone gets home safely and the temptation to drink and drive is eliminated entirely.

6. Check company insurance policies
If you’re having a Christmas party on-site, make sure you check all of your existing insurance policies, so that you’re covered, should any incidents arise during the festivities!

7. Know when to call it a night
As a Director or Business Owner, your employees will want to see you letting your hair down, relaxing and having fun, perhaps even a boogie on the dance floor. However, you’ll have to remain mindful that you are there to set an example and to know when to call it a night. This may be common sense, but after a tough year and a few drinks in the system, it can be easy to go overboard.

8. The next day
If any of your staff need to be in work the next day, be clear that they are expected in on time. Calling in sick because they have a hangover isn’t acceptable.

By taking a few common sense actions, companies can reduce the liability associated with Christmas parties and reap the long-term benefits associated with happier, more engaged employees. As we all know, Christmas parties have long been cited as a way to improve motivation and productivity and they can also set the tone for the next year ahead. This is why it’s important to get it right….

Should you need any advice on this topic or any other HR matter, please contact us on 01453 297557 or email enquiries@peepshr.co.uk.