Don’t Wind Up on the Naughty List: Tips for Hosting Office Holiday Parties

Posted on December 17, 2018 by Rick Rossignol

Friends With Sparklers At The New Year Party

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…unless you’re dreading your workplace’s annual holiday party. Perhaps one of your otherwise excellent employees had an embarrassing incident at last year’s soiree, or your business’s reputation was comprised some other way.

RTR Consulting offers the following tips to help make your holiday or New Year’s party fun, memorable, and professional:

Decide about Drinking

Some workplaces choose to limit the amount of alcohol allowed at a holiday party while others ban it entirely. It’s up to you and your stakeholders which way to go, but the decision to provide alcohol is important when considering your employees’ safety and your company’s budget.

If you do decide to allow some alcoholic beverages at your party, consider limiting the alcohol selections to decrease costs and the risk of an employee making a poor decision due to intoxication. You can also elect to close the bar early or offer attendees one or two drink tickets to keep alcohol consumption low. Urge your employees to carpool with a coworker that isn’t drinking or to take an Uber or Lyft. If your company has the resources, providing Uber and Lyft rides can be a holiday gift to your workers.

Extend the Invite

Allowing your employees to bring a plus-one will encourage them to put their best foot forward. Many of your workers will bring dates or significant others whom they will want to impress by being their charming, well-behaved selves.

Refer to the Handy-Dandy Handbook

Remind your employees of the company’s behavioral policies. Even though the holiday party might be taking place off-campus, they still represent the face of the company. Your employee handbook should have a stipulation reminding employees that they are responsible for adhering to the company’s anti-harassment policies and general codes of conduct. Send a friendly (but firm) company-wide email before the big event so everyone’s aware of expectations.

Utilize Non-Denominational Decor

Even if the majority of your company celebrates Christmas, you don’t want to put yourself at risk of a discrimination suit. Don’t incorporate religion into your office celebration; if you make it appear as though you favor a certain religion through your party décor or venue, some of your employees might get the impression that you’re excluding certain groups of people.

Dress to Impress

Few things are more embarrassing than showing up to an event underdressed or overdressed. Make sure your company’s planning committee communicates clear guidelines regarding the holiday party dress code. Give your employees the chance to show off their best attire, as long as they know to keep it work-appropriate.

Take Swift Action as Necessary

Often times, the combination of drinking and partying in a non-work environment can compel people to behave in ways they wouldn’t normally. If you witness or hear a complaint about an employee acting inappropriately with a colleague, don’t brush it aside. You could potentially be slapped with a sexual harassment claim. Refer your employees to your company’s policies regarding sexual harassment at least one week before the party starts.

Don’t Talk Shop

It’s a party and an optional one at that. Remind your employees that this holiday party is not mandatory; don’t take it personally if you have a few no-shows.

But for those of you that do show up to the office party, leave your business affairs at the door. Everyone has worked hard all year and deserves a night of holiday cheer!

Do you need help enforcing workplace policies that protect both your business and employees? RTR Consulting has more than 20 years devoted to developing effective and efficient Human Resources policies, procedures, and best practices for small to medium-sized businesses. Contact us today to learn more.

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