The end of year is so close, you can smell it in the air. Santa is ho-hoing around and Christmas decorations adorn the shops and streets. Some businesses have started their Kris Kringles and some festive enthusiasts may have even started wearing their Christmas-themed accessories.

With all this comes the inevitable end of year work party–get together.

The work Christmas party can be a minefield for employers, with increased instances of harassment and bullying claims on record. Add to this the liability for the physical safety and behaviour of alcohol-affected employees, and this annual event needs some careful prior planning by businesses.

Here are our tips to make sure that your party does what it sets out to do—that it’s a fun opportunity to recognise and thank employees for their efforts for the past year, and build team spirit.

Plan well to minimise risk

To minimise your risk exposure, following these steps is essential:

  • Firstly, make sure you have clear, legally compliant policies in relation to sexual harassment, bullying and the consumption of drugs and alcohol that clarify when the rules apply—both inside and outside of work.
  • Circulate these policies prior to the event and discuss them with your employees. Make sure everyone understands them, and signs an acknowledgement to this effect.
  • Provide clear details about the event (the venue name, address and phone number, start and finish times, the names of the organisers, and how to advise special dietary requests). Encourage your employees to pre-arrange transport home.
  • At the event, provide plenty of food that is suitable for everyone, including people with dietary restrictions. Make sure water and soft drink are freely available and definitely don’t allow self-service alcohol. Adhere to Responsible Service of Alcohol guidelines and refuse service to anyone who has had too much to drink.
  • Arrange for the organisers to be a point of contact, and to also monitor and moderate employee behaviour during the event.

Make sure you stick to the finish time—this is particularly important if the event is held at your workplace. Check that your employees have safe transport arranged. If not, organise this—especially if employees are intoxicated or otherwise vulnerable.

Tell your team what you expect

This may seem like a boring step, but it’s critical in protecting your business from employees behaving badly.

Let your employees know, before the event, that they are still accountable for workplace policies on appropriate workplace behaviour. It’s amazing how many employees will profess their undying love for each other with a bit of alcohol)!

Get your team involved

They are likely to come up with some great ideas about how they want to celebrate. Get them involved and see what ideas you can put in place.

Make it fun

You could choose a theme, go bowling, do some karaoke, play celebrity heads, musical chairs, company trivia – just maybe hold off on the jelly shots! The best way to get staff to participate is for you and your management team to lead the way, have some fun—then everyone else will.

Invite your team’s families

Budget permitting, this shows that you value your team and adds a more inclusive element to your get together. For your employees that need to organise care for their kids, Santa could make an appearance delivering gifts to take to the kids.

Stick to the party plan

The big event is here! Now it’s time to stick to the carefully-laid plan, despite all the excitement.

Take time out to talk to people

If the purpose of your end of year get together is to appreciate and acknowledge people—then do that. Try and speak to as many of your team as you can. It’s amazing how much a little acknowledgement and thanks mean to staff.

Serve alcohol responsibly

This one goes without saying. If you are supplying alcohol, make sure you supply food straight away. The earlier you can line your team’s stomachs with food, the less intoxicated they are going to get. Also, make sure there is a responsible person who isn’t drinking there. Someone who can make a call if someone has had enough to drink and needs to move onto soft drink or water.

Thank your employees

Take time out to thank your employees for their hard work. You could even offer sincere cards of thanks or small ‘thank you’ gifts that they can take home with them.

More alcohol tips

We can be a boozy bunch in Australia! Some more tips when providing alcohol are:

  • Offer a number of drink tickets per person, after which the attendees must pay for their own drinks. This can also keep your costs down too.
  • Get cabcharge vouchers or send people home in Ubers on a company account so they don’t drive home.

Stick to the set finish time

It’s always a good idea to have a set finish time, when the party is over. That means home time for management and directors…really.

If you need help  with developing and implementing policies around harassment, bullying and consumption of drugs and alcohol, give HR Gurus a call on 1300 959 560 and one of our highly experienced Gurus will be able to help

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