Five tips to reduce risk at your office Christmas party

With the festive season fast approaching, many companies already have their staff end-of-year function marked on calendars. The office Christmas party is a great opportunity for you and your staff to enjoy each other’s company. However, there’s also the potential for undesirable behaviour if you don’t manage the event effectively.

Having a clear understanding of your responsibilities as a business owner will help reduce risk, so here are a five quick tips.

Be safe
Ensure your staff have arranged safe transport home from the event. As a business owner, you have a ‘duty of care’ to all staff. This includes promoting responsible drinking and sober drivers.

  • Encourage staff to arrange to be picked up after the event
  • Provide the phone number of a taxi firm and encourage pre-booking at this busy time of year

Be clear about expected behaviours
All staff should be aware that during the Christmas party they are still representing the company and the companies brand.

Be inclusive
When you plan your Christmas party, take into account the different cultures, religions and orientations of your team. Given that Christmas is a christian tradition, be mindful that some members of your team may not wish to attend.

  • You may want to consider renaming the gathering an ‘end of year staff party’
  • Ensure you have a range of non-alcoholic beverages and consult staff on suitable food choices

Remember workers not based in the office, or out on maternity leave
Ensure that people who work away from the office are given an invitation, or given an alternative event at another time. If your invitation extends to the partners of your employees, please remember to avoid sexual orientation discrimination by extending the invitation to staff with same-sex partners.

Warn your team about the consequences of unauthorised absence from work the day after the party
Remember to state your intentions clearly – hangovers are not a legitimate reason for absence from work and could potentially result in disciplinary action.

  • One recent study highlighted that workers drink an average of 5.5 units of alcohol at their office Christmas party, with ‘morning after sickies’ costing the economy about 39 million worker-hours.
  • An easy solution to this problem is to plan your event for a Friday, or the day after the office closes down so employees can recover in their own time.

Finally, having planned and communicated well to staff, enjoy the party!

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