'Tis the season to be jolly, the time to plan that much-awaited end-of-year staff party, where people from different departments get to socialise with each other, have a few drinks, loosen up and be, well, themselves. However, to ensure your party ends as well as it begins, there are a few things to consider.
As Ellis Whittam advises: Even if the party takes place outside normal working hours away from the workplace, it still counts as a work-related event.
Over the years, the office staff party has posed many a challenge for both legal and HR departments (and sometimes for PR departments), with issues including:
- Drunken behaviour posted on social media
- Ill-conceived approaches at building office romances
- Banter turning to bullying
- Loose tongues revealing office secrets not meant for all ears
- High spirits turning into high tensions, and even the occasional fisticuff
Over and beyond, staff parties can also often lead to absences or unplanned extended holidays. It's also your responsibility to ensure that you don't inadvertently discriminate against any staff member.
Thankfully, there are several little techniques that may help manage any risks and ensure that your team still enjoy their annual event.
Account for all
Make sure that your event is as inclusive as possible.
Some won’t celebrate Christmas, others may not drink alcohol or consume certain foods, based on religions or beliefs. Make sure alternatives are made available, and factor in that certain venues may be unsuitable for staff with disabilities.
Creating a list of all employees and making sure you're aware of all these variations would allow you to plan an event that's all inclusive. Failure to consider this may drastically damage your relationship with them.
You wouldn’t think that you need a chaperone for parties meant for fully grown adults. Unfortunately, it's ALWAYS better to be safe than sorry. Make sure you have a few level-headed people responsible for groups, keeping an eye on known issues and people, making sure people don’t indulge beyond their capacities, as well as being responsible for transport organisation and equipped with a little spare cash in case of emergencies.
The role of the chaperone isn’t one of a school monitor, rather someone that knows how to stay in the background, knowing when it's necessary to intervene and when to allow people to still have fun.
Set the scene
The Christmas party is a chance to celebrate your team’s hard work from the past year and share the festive cheer in a more laid-back environment than the workplace. It’s a time to show employees that you appreciate their dedication. However, people can, even with best of intentions, go overboard. Setting the scene in advance may help retain those inhibitions that can often slip away after a few glasses of bubbly.
Make sure all employees are made aware of unacceptable behaviour, as well as any potential repercussions should they cross the boundary of company standards. The key is not to come across as a stickler for the rules, but a champion of your brand, which is what your team are representing after all.
For a light-hearted approach, this piece by the Birmingham Mail is a good example of sending the right message in an entertaining way.
In closing – the annual staff party is an important occasion, and by following some of our advice above, you could make it a safe yet enjoyable event for both you and your employees.
What are you treating your employees to this festive season? Let us know on Twitter using the hashtag #GoFarinBiz