Holiday Party Success: Inclusive and Safe Strategies
Last Updated on December 16, 2023 by G. T. HR
Holiday parties are a vital aspect of corporate culture, providing an opportunity for employees to relax and bond. However, they can also be seen by employees as opportunities to act inappropriately, which can cause headaches for Human Resources and potentially lead to lawsuits.
An example of holiday parties gone wrong is Harris v Trojan Fireworks. In this case, the employer held an afternoon party without alcohol limitations. One of the company’s employees became intoxicated and decided to drive home after the party. On the way home the employee was in an accident that injured two people and killed a third. The employer was liable due to the drinking having occurred during the course of employment.
While this is only one example, there are many other examples of claims of harassment, discrimination, humiliation, wrongful termination, and more are derived from holiday parties. Therefore, planning these events necessitates careful consideration to ensure they are enjoyable, inclusive, and devoid of incidents leading to discomfort or legal issues.
Included in this Article
Setting Expectations and Conduct for the Holiday Party
Establishing clear guidelines for behavior is crucial. Invitations should remind employees that professional standards are maintained, irrespective of the event’s location or timing. Implementing a sensible alcohol policy, like drink tickets or limited bar hours, can moderate consumption. Offering non-alcoholic options and promoting a culture that doesn’t pressure employees to drink is also beneficial. Management should vigilantly monitor for excessive drinking and inappropriate behavior, preventing incidents of harassment or unprofessional conduct.
Inclusivity and Diversity
Holiday parties should appeal universally, reflecting the diverse cultural backgrounds of the workforce. Attendance should never be mandatory, respecting employees’ personal choices and circumstances, such as cultural differences, personal preferences, or family commitments. Decorations and themes should be considerate of all employees, avoiding potentially controversial elements like mistletoe, which can lead to uncomfortable situations.
Communication and Transparency
Providing clear details about the holiday party, including dress code, type of activities, food and drink options, and guest policies, is essential. This information helps employees feel more comfortable and make informed decisions about their participation. Ensure there are no unexpected elements at the party that might make some employees feel uncomfortable or out of place.
Venue and Time Selection
The choice of venue can influence the party’s tone. Off-site, extravagant events might encourage more uninhibited behavior, whereas in-office or low-key venues might promote a more reserved atmosphere. Consider daytime events like luncheons, less likely to escalate into inappropriate behavior, allowing employees to enjoy the event without impacting their evening plans.
It is advisable to clearly communicate the company’s expectations regarding alcohol consumption in advance. This can be done through internal memos or emails, outlining responsible drinking guidelines. Providing a variety of non-alcoholic beverage options is also essential to cater to those who do not drink alcohol or choose not to partake during the event.
Employing a professional bartending service can help regulate alcohol distribution, as they are trained to identify and manage situations where an individual may have consumed too much. Additionally, considering a drink ticket system can effectively limit the number of alcoholic beverages each attendee can consume.
Post-Event Holiday Party Considerations
Providing options like ride-share services for guests who may have consumed alcohol is a responsible choice. Be clear about the expectations for behavior and social media use even after the official event ends. This helps prevent unprofessional incidents from occurring outside the official party.
A well-planned holiday party can significantly boost employee morale and camaraderie. By prioritizing inclusivity, setting clear expectations, and managing potential risks, businesses can ensure their holiday events are enjoyable, safe, and memorable for all attendees. Remembering that even in a festive setting, the event is an extension of the workplace, and the same professional standards and considerations for diversity and inclusivity should apply.
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