Stephen Brown Company Culture
Avoid your firm’s Christmas Party becoming a festival of Fists, Flirtations and Frustrations…
By Euro Projects Recruitment Ltd.
At this time of year, businesses are looking to have arranged their Christmas party to celebrate the festive season, but also use this as way of thanking their employees and raising morale. However, it is important to remember that it may not seem like it at the time, the Christmas party is technically a work activity and you should consider the location of the office party as an extension of the workplace. The obligation of the employer is exactly the same as they are in the place of work, they have a duty care towards their employees and as such the employer should remind the employees that they are representing the business and are still expected to act accordingly.
Do’s for employers
Here’s what you can do if you are throwing a Christmas party for your employees:
- Invite all employees to the party even if absent through sickness, maternity or paternity leave;
- Ensure that when organising your Christmas party that it does not discriminate against any employees;
- Be careful when planning the event that the venue is accessible and suitable for all employees
- Remind employees of the company’s expectations and be clear on what will be considered inappropriate behaviour;
- Be aware that the claim most likely to arise as a result of the Christmas party is harassment and sexual harassment in particular, ensure that your harassment policy is up to date and that has been read and understood by all employees.
- Control the amount of free alcohol and make sure food and non-alcoholic drinks are provided;
- Be prepared to deal with any inappropriate behaviour in line with company policy and be consistent in how you apply the policy;
- Avoid discussions about career prospects or remuneration with employees; and
- Consider nominating a member of management to refrain from alcohol at the event in order to deal with any emergencies or incidents that arise.
If your Christmas party is the only time you get your team together, don’t be surprised if it’s used as an opportunity to raise things on their mind.
Instead, have a team meeting at work the week before, where people can air their views. Let everyone know this their opportunity to clear the air and the Christmas Party is a celebratory event.
Don’ts for employees
Here is what not to do if you are attending an office Christmas party:
- Forget you are effectively still ‘at work’, and not conduct yourself accordingly;
- Use it as an opportunity to raise grievances with colleagues or management;
- Drink too much so that you don’t know what you are doing;
- Get involved in office gossip or office ‘banter’ which could be offensive and discriminatory;
- Try to discuss why you should have a pay rise with your manager;
- Make any unwelcome advances, sexual or otherwise;
- Become violent or aggressive; and
- Forget to enjoy the event!
To help to protect your business there are a few simple steps that you can take to ensure that your Office party is successful and you are not dealing with unwanted and time consuming HR issues in the new year.
- Ensure that you equal opportunities and harassment and bullying policies are in place and are up to date.
- Ensure that your social media policies are up to date – employees are entirely permitted to share photo’s on their personal media accounts, as long as they are appropriate and uploaded with common sense. If you do not have social media policy it should be made clear to employees what they can or cannot share on line.
- Ensure that all employees are aware of these policies and that they fully understand the implications of them if they are breached
- Provide guidance to all employees well in advice of the Office party that sets out the standards of behaviour and the expectation of their conduct – remind them what those standards of behaviour are and the consequences of inappropriate and unlawful behaviour
- Take steps to avoid “third party harassment”
- Arrange for a designated member of the management team to monitor the event and to ensure that nothing gets out of hand
- If an employee becomes aggressive or their conduct gets out of hand you should take action and send the employee home
- Be aware of your duty of care and consider limiting the number of free drinks, there is no obligation to provide transport to and from the event but you may want to provide employees with a list of local taxi companies and telephone numbers so that they can make their own transport arrangements
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