Holiday Office Party This Year? A Few Things to Consider

Holiday parties can be a great way to show appreciation to employees that have worked hard and maintained high productivity levels all year to keep businesses afloat; especially this year. Office celebrations can provide an opportunity to bond with staff members and show appreciation for their efforts. Claire Moorley-Jones, Managing Director at HR180, supports the idea of a holiday event:

Forward thinking employers understand this, and know that rewarding employees for hard work pays dividends in productivity and morale throughout the rest of the year. The corporate Christmas party is an event that many look forward to all year, so while everyone is in good festive spirits, do take the opportunity to celebrate your staff and recognize their achievements.

On the other hand, holiday parties can be filled with potential legal issues, risks and a myriad of “day-after” consequences that may result in real problems for the employer. It is just not the uncomfortable cell phone pictures that circulate the day later or the awkward personal interactions that might occur the next Monday following the party (depending on “who” does “what”). Incidents can have a moral and financial impact that can range anywhere from injury claims to grievances and discipline to lawsuits.

Should companies still have a party then? Yes. If management takes the time to properly plan and deploy appropriate strategies BEFORE the festivities begin then everyone can enjoy and benefit from the experience.

According to a Bloomberg BNA survey of human resources executives representing 300 U.S. employers, parties are on the upswing…76% of respondents said they will be holding a year-end holiday celebration of some type this year. Of all the companies surveyed, 52% say they will open the parties to spouses or other guests. But the partying will include slightly less emphasis on liquor. Still, 58% of the holiday parties will include the serving of alcoholic beverages. In addition, most employers indicate that they are taking one or more measures to limit excessive drinking and ensure the safety of party attendees. Here are some of the strategies that companies employ:

74% – will have bartenders monitor alcohol consumption
54% – will limit times when alcohol is served
49% – will offer a taxi service
24% – will provide discounted hotel rates to encourage overnight stays
4% – will appoint designated drivers


Below are a few more things to consider:

  • Review existing employee conduct policies – remind them about the company values. Communicate clearly and concisely your expectations of behavior.
  • Identify appropriate attire: the party still should be considered a business function. Therefore business attire is a good choice.
  • Take the focus off alcohol. Promote entertainment, eating and dancing. However, if you do include alcohol, limit the amount served; consider drink tickets, or drink allotments. Have free non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Clearly define party start and end times. Consider closing the bar 1 hour prior to the party’s conclusion.
  • Serve food instead of snacks: combining a meal with alcohol consumption reduces the likelihood of intoxication.
  • Keep them occupied: Some companies engage in holiday games (team building exercises) gift exchanges or other contests.
  • Invite families and/or clients and vendors. The presence of employees’ families or other work-related colleagues can encourage employees to be on their best behavior.

We are not saying to cancel your company holiday party by any means. However, we want you to be prepared and invest a little time on the front end: think, plan, protect and be safe.



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