Planning an office Christmas party

It’s that time of year again; employers all around the country are planning (or have already planned) the annual office Christmas Party. The event typically consists of a night of drinking, eating and socialising, and for most businesses it’s nothing more than some good fun between colleagues. However, it does have the potential to turn ugly so it’s important that employers try to avoid this at all costs.

Office Christmas Parties, even when not held at the office, are still considered ‘work’ and the responsibilities of employers don’t change. With this in mind, if you’re an employer, it’s vital to consider any risks that accompany the night of seemingly harmless fun as you could be held responsible for any harm caused to or by employees. These risks include, but aren’t limited to, arguments and resulting absenteeism. Here at PrivilegeHR, we’ve compiled our top tips for how to avoid the unwanted and simply enjoy the festivities.

Before planning any activities, it’s important to make sure that your Employers’ Liability Insurance and any Directors’ and Officers’ Insurances are up to date to ensure you’re covered for any unfortunate events that may arise. All companies should have a clear party policy that illustrates what is both acceptable and unacceptable behaviour, and the consequences for any misconduct. If the event is scheduled for a worknight, it should be made clear that there will be penalties for absenteeism or lateness the following day (unless you’re feeling generous and there aren’t any!). It should also be understood by every employee that any form of fighting, excessive drinking or discriminatory comments will not be tolerated. Furthermore, the event should not be compulsory as people may have other responsibilities, or may not wish to participate on personal grounds.

To avoid any drunken behaviour, consider limiting the amount of free alcohol available to your employees and provide some food in order to soak up some of the drinks. It’s also important to ensure that there is plenty of water and other non-alcoholic drinks on offer for those who don’t drink. Planned activities are also a great way to discourage people from sticking near the bar.

When at the event itself, it’s important to avoid all topics that could lead to problems down the line, such as work performance and promotions. Christmas Parties have often been where empty promises have been made by managers after a few drinks, causing a number of issues in the New Year. In the event that an employee acts inappropriately during the party, it is unwise to discipline them there and then. Instead, send them home and deal with the issue when everyone is back at work.

At the end of the night, make sure that everyone can get home safely. Whether this is by arranging taxis or a coach beforehand, or simply making sure the event finishes before the last train leaves. Finally, it’s important to get in the Christmas spirit and have fun!