With Christmas just over a month away, it’s safe to say that many work do’s are taking place. The staff Christmas do is a great opportunity for people to let their hair down, and can be a great way to build even better relationships with co-workers and colleagues.
It can also be a great way for things to go sour, very quickly.
There are many potential risks when it comes to the Christmas celebration, from alcohol fuelled fights, to police interventions and of course the inevitable absenteeism when the hangover kicks in.
As an employer, it’s easy (and certainly tempting) to believe that what adults get up to in their own time (and off work property) is none of your business; however, that’s not the case. It’s important to remember that:
· If you are hosting a party that includes you clients, or any external third parties, your business reputation could be put on the line by the antics of your staff.
· As an employer you have Health & Safety responsibilities for your staff and others. This includes those whose safety is compromised by the actions of an intoxicated employee.
· Sexual harassment can be anything from a mistimed and misaimed joke or comment, over familiarity on the dance floor or an inappropriate Secret Santa gift. Equally, sexual harassment is not one way; men and women can be left feeling uncomfortable by the comments and actions of others.
· If an employee engages in sexual harassment, theft, violence or damage to property they could be regarded as being guilty of misconduct.
How can you, as an employer, try to minimise the risks, without ultimately being a kill joy at would should be a fun time of year?
· Send a reminder to all employees about the responsibilities, and what is expected of them. Remind me that whilst they are “off duty” they will still be representing the business, and should therefore act accordingly.
· In larger organisations it might be worth having a few managers to be in charge of ensuring the more intoxicated revellers are put in a taxi, safely, long before any trouble can start.
· You might want to consider laying on transport to ensure everyone gets home safely, and at a reasonable time.
· Don’t provide a “free” bar, or lay on copious amounts of alcohol at the start of the evening. This will only encourage binge drinking, and that can only lead to problems.
· Do not allow staff to use work vehicles on a night out.
One of the most important things to remember is that you, as an employer, are there to set an example. Have fun, enjoy your staff’s company, be a real-live human being, but maybe avoid dancing on the tables for this one night, at least.