In the words of the Brummie genius that is Noddy Holder; “So here it is merry Christmas, everybody's having fun….”
Well of course they are, as the business owner you’re laying on the annual festive lunch or dinner for your staff. Plenty of merriment being poured and sausage rolls scoffed.
For many of us though it is still a genuine opportunity to thank our employees for their hard work and dedication over what has been a rather trying 12 months.
What you don’t want is to undo all of the goodwill to your staff by turning it into a WWF brawl or Geordie Shore “snogathon”. Why? Because as the employer you are still responsible for the behaviour at your event.
Oh yes, regardless of the fact you’ve left the temptation of the photocopiers behind (see what I did there?) and booked a venue away from the office, you are still responsible. Employers are still liable for the actions of their staff in the course of their employment and the office party counts.
The biggest concern for you should be the consumption of alcohol, and the effect it will have. Most of us become less inhibited, louder; think we’re far funnier than we are. But a joke to some may be an offensive comment to another. Cultural, religious, sexual issues are all great material for a standup comedian but should be avoided at all costs at an office party.
I’d recommend sending a note around by e-mail to all staff that whilst you would want everyone to enjoy themselves they should remember that any misdemeanours will be treated in the same way as if they were in work as normal. The office party is not an excuse to settle old scores, bully, offend or abuse. Neither is it an opportunity to forget the moral compass. Worth reminding everyone that we all have phones with cameras and many have access to social media sites. What seems like a joke at the time will not seem so funny plastered all over Facebook!
The best advice is to apply common sense. Check your company policy with regard to such events, update if necessary and make sure you provide advice for staff. Keep access to complimentary drinks to a sensible limit, make sure you include soft drinks and not just alcohol and offer details of taxi companies who you trust and can provide access to. What you must avoid is an “over the limit” employee deciding they’re ok to drive home.
Also make sure that your senior team are aware of the company policy and keep a step or two behind the drinks. If the boss gets hammered and out of control it sets the worst possible example and can leave a very negative impression on staff and anyone else witnessing the spectacle.
Some of you reading this may be thinking “Bah humbug!” others who know me may have a wry smile; but please don’t take the office party too lightly. It could deliver a very unpleasant present to unwrap at Christmas.
Whatever your plans for the holidays may I wish you on behalf of myself and my team at Samuel Phillips a safe, happy and memorable Christmas and here’s to a prosperous New Year.