Broadspring Consulting

Christmas Parties And Avoiding The Hangover


Office Christmas Party Success Tips
You know your staff want a party but… you are worried about what might happen when alcohol is involved.
Even when a team gets on well during the year, the shenanigans associated with office parties have a reputation all of their own.
There are many stories of bad behaviour at Christmas parties and none of us wants it to be our team members who are featured on a blog or in the news.

We all know that if there have been tensions during the year that a bit of “dutch courage” in the form of a few drinks can lift the lid on tensions that simmered away during the year and lead them to boil over at the end of year party.

Should you cancel the party all together?

Well that is one way of avoiding the issue but you may send a completely different message to your team. Many staff really appreciate the company Christmas party and view it as a reward for a year of hard work.

In reality not having a party does very little to remove your liability and obligation.
Think about the bullying and sexual harassment cases where inappropriate behaviour has occurred outside the work site and at a venue where staff “routinely” go. In other words, if your team typically meet for a few drinks at the local on a Friday night then that may be considered an extension of your workplace.

4 Key Things You Should Do

First you must ensure that you have a clear set of behaviour guidelines (including but not limited to policy on prevention of bullying, harassing and discriminating behaviour and a code of conduct or “house rules” or “values”).
In those policies you need to clearly state that inappropriate behaviour will not be tolerated and that it may result in disciplinary action.

Secondly if you hold a party, then make sure that alcohol is served responsibly and by accredited staff (ie bar staff who hold an RSA certificate)
The days of the open bar and a free for all are long gone in the world of the responsible employer.

Third, members of the management and leadership team – that includes you – need to be present and role modelling appropriate behaviour. You can have a drink or two but should remain well and truly in charge of your judgement.

Finally, encourage staff to enjoy the camaraderie rather than merely free booze. Perhaps a sit down dinner with drinks is a better option that a night out at a pub enjoying a band.
It’s important to gently remind staff that the Christmas party is a celebration yet it is still a work function.

Now that you think you’ve avoided a headache……

it’s important to remember that you have control over the company Christmas party.
Get creative. Think of alternatives that will allow staff to let their hair down without going silly.
Would you consider a lunch Christmas party and an early knock off that day?
What about a “cocktail hour” at a nice venue, with food and staff holding RSA certificates?
In other words a short function.
Do you need to host a staff party with alcohol at all? As many of us become more health conscious, non alcoholic events should gain better traction.

Make sure that you role model and monitor good standards of behaviour all through the year and then you may be able to rest a little easier at the end of year function.

Remind people to be alert to what is posted on social media – especially if your company is mentioned as this can have wide ranging impact on your reputation.

Most of all, remember to enjoy the Christmas party. It is after all the festive season and is a time to be enjoyed. Not overdone though.