By: Jennifer Ward
It’s that most stressful time of year. Travel to plan, gifts to buy, meals to prepare; no need to add one more stress to your holiday season with an unfortunate incident at your company holiday party.
To combat a disastrous event, it’s important to remember the best defense is a good offense, (unless you’re the Philadelphia Eagles; then even when the offense puts up 31 points, the defense still almost gives the game to a 3-10 Washington football team). Regardless, steps taken months prior to December will help head off problems from occurring at your company event.
Planning an alcohol-free party is a great way to prevent issues from arising. Unfortunately, it may also be a great way to discourage employees from attending. If you decide to provide alcohol at your event, consider;
- Limiting drinking options to wine/beer – 20% IPAs do not count.
- Providing food – Food slows the absorption of alcohol. Additionally, studies have shown people can only put one thing in their mouths at a time.
- Planning an early end to drinks – For bonus points, play “Closing Time” by Semisonic.
- Hosting at a venue where there’s more to do than drink – Arcade bars, bowling alleys, indoor miniature golf courses are all great activities to avoid excessive alcohol consumption without placing restrictions. See Ward Law LLC’s first annual holiday party picture below held at Lucky Strike Philadelphia.
Unless aggressive steps are taken to limit alcohol consumption, assume there will be employees unable to drive home. Make plans to use Designated Drivers / Uber / Lyft / Train / Bus / Horse Drawn Sleigh / Magic Carpet; anything is preferable to drunk driving.
When planning for the event, consider explicitly inviting spouses/family to create a more family-friendly environment and discourage inappropriate behavior.
In the days leading up to the event, send out an email communicating expectations with employees. Include references to general conduct policy, anti-harassment policy, and complaint procedures. (For a lesson on how not to prepare employees for a party, learn from Gob Bluth of Arrested Development).
Upper management should be aware they have added responsibility at the event. Not only should they set a good example, but they should also keep an eye out to prevent and address inappropriate behavior before it becomes a problem. No need for them to brandish a ruler like the chaperone at a middle school dance, but there is also no need to be ripping shots with accounting.
StraightforWARD Legal Advice:
Holiday parties are great for building camaraderie, celebrating accomplishments…and they’re fun! With proper planning, you and your company can create a wonderful experience and prevent a “Nightmare Before Christmas.”
* * * * * HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO YOU AND YOURS FROM WARD LAW, LLC * * * * *