It's December which means that work Christmas party season is upon us once more. Whilst most of the workforce may be looking forward to the event, it can prove to be a bit of a headache for HR.
The article below sets out how some employers are steering away from the traditional boozy evening do and instead making it a dry event, holding it at lunchtime or replacing the party with team-building experiences like go-karting. All these measures are aimed at ensuring that staff behave themselves and do not overindulge on alcohol.
Even those employers who are not steering away from the party vibe are putting in place additional safeguards to ensure things run without incident. This includes nominating sober-chaperones and placing limits on the consumption of alcohol.
Whatever your approach, it is certainly sensible for HR professionals to think about taking some precautionary steps such as:
- reminding employees (particularly the senior ones) that Christmas parties should be seen as an extension of the work environment and that their behaviour should reflect that;
- refreshing employees' knowledge about your harassment and anti-bullying policy and equal opportunities policy; and
- making it clear that it is business as usual the next day (assuming it is a working day for them) and therefore they should not be arriving late or under the influence of alcohol and that such behaviour could be treated as misconduct, leading to disciplinary action against them.
Employers are taking an increasingly conservative approach to the Christmas party season, experts have said, as fear over the reputational and legal fallout from poor behaviour at festive get-togethers causes them to scale back their plans or take measures to safeguard staff. Initiatives such as chaperones, alcohol-free events and strict guidelines on conduct are increasingly in force as employers and their HR departments respond to the fallout from notable party-related legal cases and a growing intolerance for potentially offensive or discriminatory conduct. The Financial Times reported last week that accountancy giant BDO had introduced a ‘sober chaperone’ policy for its Christmas parties, with each department asked to nominate two individuals who would refrain from over-indulging to ensure employees behaved responsibly in an ‘emergency situation’ and got home safely at the end of the night.