With the holiday season in full swing, employers are in the
midst of the annual balancing act between festive celebration and
appropriate workplace conduct. As the saying goes, an ounce of
prevention is worth a pound of cure. Here are some tips for
planning and hosting a successful and (hopefully) incident free
workplace holiday party.
1. Alcohol Consumption
Many holiday parties involve the
provision of alcohol to employees. In an effort to prevent
over-consumption, consider (i) setting a fixed period of time where
alcoholic beverages will be served; (ii) providing a controlled
number of drink tickets per guest; (iii) hiring an independent
bartender who has experience and training to identify,
prevent and address over-consumption; (iv) having designated
sober employees who can monitor to ensure that everyone is
consuming alcohol safely, and (v) serving food and non-alcoholic
2. Location & Transportation
Consider holding the party offsite
and plan ahead to ensure safe transportation options for employees
and guests when they leave the event, such as (i) the
pre-arrangement of designated drivers, (ii) the provision of
taxi-chits or (iii) the hiring of a local transportation
company. Make sure that transportation options and
expectations regarding the use of personal vehicles (i.e. that
employees don't drive home) are well-communicated in advance of
and during the event, including by having someone at the door of
the venue as employees leave to ensure that they are making good
decisions regarding transportation.
3. Prevention of Discrimination
Given the diversity of our
workplaces, ensure that holiday parties remain non-denominational
in nature and provide alternatives to the consumption of alcoholic
beverages to ensure that the event is not perceived to be (or
actually) exclusionary. Consider also maintaining a
work-appropriate dress-code and communicating that expectation to
employees in advance of the event.
4. Prevention of Harassment
It is almost inevitable that at
events such as holiday parties, there is an increased risk of
inappropriate behaviour. In advance of the event, remind employees
of your expectations regarding mutual respect, professional
workplace conduct and the treatment of co-workers and guests,
including by distributing a copy of your harassment policies and
code of conduct in advance of the event. During the course of
the event, consider having certain employees responsible for
monitoring conduct and identifying problematic behaviour, so that
incidents can be addressed quickly, discretely and effectively
before they result in harm or embarrassment.
Happy Holidays and all the best to you and your workplace!
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