The Christmas party season is here and after a hard year’s work it’s nice to have the chance to relax a bit and celebrate with your colleagues. For many companies, this will be the first Christmas Party since December 2019 and lots of people will be very excited about finally getting the opportunity to dress-up and have fun.
But at the risk of sounding like the ‘Grinch’, whilst Christmas can be the perfect time for social bonding amongst your team, there are also lots of opportunities for poor conduct and unintentional discrimination, so we thought that a quick guide on company-arranged Christmas events might come in useful to help you try to avoid employee disciplinary matters.
1. Location, Location, Location
For the Christmas party, have you chosen somewhere for your event that really suits everyone?
Location is every party planner’s nightmare in any case, but think about your group and whether the location and event might exclude some of your team.
For example, a drink at the pub or other venue that primarily serves alcohol might exclude employees who follow a religion where alcohol consumption is prohibited, as sometimes this prohibition can extend to entering premises which sell alcohol.
Also, think about the timing of the event. Would an event during the day be better to accommodate those who have childcare or other caring responsibilities? Would a fun team building event or afternoon tea be more inclusive options?
You’ll never please all of the people all of the time but it is worthwhile taking the time to consider what would work best for your workforce, and whether there’s any adjustments you can make to ensure the event is as inclusive as possible.
2. Mistletoe and Wine…
Christmas parties offer the opportunity for everyone to indulge in their favourite tipple and have fun with their colleagues, but how can you stop your employees overdoing it?
Although we know you want to have a good time too, it is important to intervene if an employee’s behaviour becomes aggressive or they focus unwanted attention on another employee.
Even though the office party may be out of office hours or off premises, it is still a work event and there is a duty of care on the employer to keep everyone safe and free from aggressive, discriminatory or harassing behaviour.
Don’t be afraid to step in early if you see behaviour that is starting to become inappropriate. Most people just need someone to make it clear that their behaviour is unsuitable when their own judgement is impaired – and it might just save you having to deal with more than a hangover the next day.
Supplying food, limiting the alcohol offered, and ensuring available non-alcoholic options all help to avoid drunken behaviour.
3. Say ‘Cheese!’
Gone are the days of “What happens at the Christmas Party stays at the Christmas Party”. Posting a picture at 2am of a drunk colleague can seem like a great idea at the time but the consequences can be far-reaching.
Remind employees that they should think before they upload ‘fun’ pictures to social media without the permission of all those in the photo – or preferably not do it at all. No-one wants to see pictures or videos of dancing directors dressed as Santa on Facebook the next day – particularly your clients…
It’s a good idea to send an email ahead of your Christmas event reminding people of the need to remember that they are accountable for their behaviour at the Christmas party. There’s a way to word such an email without it sounding like you are trying to remove all of the fun from the event but sending some reminders can be useful.
We really hope that your festivities go well and everyone has a celebration that they remember for the right reasons.
If, however, you find you have a ‘morning after the night before’ situation on your hands, want advice on avoiding discrimination and harassment, or just need your social media policy updated, then do give us a call on 0203 319 1649 or contact us using the contact form.