Now that the year is coming to a close, it’s time for a celebration! And boy do we need one after the chaotic year we have all experienced. Some businesses may decide to hold a Christmas party for their workers. In line with COVID-19 policies, it’s a great time to reconnect the employees together again.
As with any business event where alcohol is involved, employees need to adhere to the business’s drug and alcohol management policy and behave acceptably.
We’ve all heard of a time when an employee has had too much to drink, gotten a little too confident in front of the boss, or made an embarrassing choice at the work Christmas party.
‘Just a little bit of fun at the work Christmas party’ can lead to bullying, harassment, unpleasant claims, accidents, and injuries. It can also stain your name in the workplace for a long time, as the event is used in workplace conversations in years to come. “Remember when he embarrassed himself at the Christmas party.”
On the other side, there’s the story of the management team where the employer has turned a blind eye to an employee’s behaviour. Even though the staff member is off duty, the employer is still responsible for their health and safety.
It is essential to safeguard the upcoming work event by ensuring the following procedures are in place.
Review your Policies and Procedures
Establish your Policies and Procedures are sufficiently protecting the business and the employees from risk. Policies include Drug and Alcohol, Work-related Social Events, Social Media, and other Policies.
If you are not confident that your Drug and Alcohol Policy is risk-free, you can click here for a free review? Get a FREE review.
Communicate, communicate and communicate
In advance of the event, send out a friendly note to all the employees to remind them of the appropriate conduct, company Policies and Procedures, alcohol use, and the behaviours which could result in harassment or other claims. This reminder will reinforce values, standards, and procedures, at the same time encouraging the employees that the business does take safety seriously.
Careful venue selection
It’s best to choose a venue or setting with minimal risk of accident or injury. Yes, a Christmas party at the water park, or on a yacht, or an adrenaline game of paintball may sound like a lot of fun, it can lead to harm. When you add alcohol at the event the stakes are higher for injury. Why not try a day at the beach, a picnic in the park, a game of putt-putt, or what about a game of bare-foot bowls.
Limit the alcohol
This lessens the risk. If the business carefully considers the venue and the alcohol consumption, then the risk is lowered. Eleven percent of workplace injuries are related to alcohol.
Consider transportation options
The business’ duty of care stretches beyond the event itself. It is important to ensure the employees can get home safely, even though it is not a legal requirement to offer transportation, the ease of getting home is essential.
Perhaps charter a bus to take the staff home or to a central location. Offer a reimbursement of a private car hire such as an uber, but at the minimum ensure the venue is in a central easy location for transport options.
If the employer is aware of the risks that may occur and implements the above procedures and policies, everyone will have a fun-filled time and most importantly a safe event.
What about on the day? What should you as a business be aware of to ensure a safe event?
Responsible Service of Alcohol
If the event is at a licenced venue or you bring the alcohol yourself, be prepared for the person who has one or two drinks too many. Be prepared to take action if the person acts inappropriately or is inebriated. Ensure the alcohol is being served responsibly.
Make sure the venue has an abundance of non-alcohol drinks available, especially if the event is outdoors or incorporates some form of physical activity.
Provide food options
When you have food in your stomach the alcohol is absorbed more slowly, so having various food options is very important to have at an event. Plus you don’t want your employees to be hangry! Don’t forget to take ask the employees if they have any food allergies and tolerances and take this into account when ordering the catering.
Bare in mind
Remember the employer is still the employer at the event, the roles have not changed because of the Christmas party. How to avoid uncomfortable situations is to diffuse them from the start. Ensure a manager is not consuming alcohol and can have the responsibility for keeping an eye on the atmosphere and behaviour at the party. This person must be prepared to take action if required.
Remember, Christmas parties and events are about bringing together the business’ key assets: their workers. It’s about having a fun connection, feeling valued, and having a great time together.
If the employer sets a positive example, has a Policy and Procedure in place, and summarises the expected acceptable behaviour from all the staff, then your Christmas party event will go off without a hitch.
Enjoy the event and have a great time celebrating together!