It’s that time of year again; the festive season is in full swing. Many employers will be throwing a Christmas party for their employees in order to reward them for their hard work during 2012. But how do you ensure fun and merriment all round? At the risk of sounding scrooge-like, we give you our top tips for making the event run smoothly…
- Let your employees know that you would be delighted for them all to attend, but don’t insist they do – the party is likely to be in their free time after all.
- Ensure you invite all employees, including those who may currently be on leave (for example maternity leave).
- Consider whether you will extend the invite to partners of employees. If so, don’t assume all partners will be of the opposite sex.
- Think about when you will hold the party. If it’s on a weekday evening, you may see an increase in employees calling in sick the following day. Make sure staff know that you expect them in and that if they fail to turn up, it may be dealt with as an unauthorised absence.
- Remember to avoid a clash with any other religious festival.
- Consider an appropriate venue and whether it will be suitable for all. Does it have wheelchair access? Is it likely to offend anyone of a particular religion or sex?
- Plan how everyone will get home. Is public transport readily available or should you organise taxis? Employers owe a duty of care to their employees, so make sure that no one is left wandering the streets at 6am wearing a party hat (unless it’s by choice).
- Circulate a memo dealing with acceptable and unacceptable behaviour at the party. Remind staff of your disciplinary policy and that it can cover conduct outside of the workplace. You don’t want to find yourself liable for the unlawful actions of your employees.
- Make sure your bullying and harassment policies are up to date and circulate them amongst staff if necessary.
- Ensure there is a balance between alcohol and soft drinks. This should keep people from becoming too drunk and will also accommodate those who don’t drink alcohol.
- Consider giving employees a certain number of drink tokens to limit the amount of free alcohol they consume.
- Make sure plenty of food is available (useful to soak up the alcohol!) and provide alternative options for employees with specific dietary or religious requirements.
- Appoint supervisors, who will remain sober and ensure everything goes to plan.
- Don’t give an employee their annual appraisal on the dance floor. The employee may seek to rely on a promised pay rise which, in the cold light of day, does not seem like such a good idea. As far-fetched as this sounds, employees have taken their employer to an Employment Tribunal in similar situations, so beware!
- Avoid conversations which could lead to discriminatory comments, for example about religion, family plans or sexual orientation…
- …and make sure that your employees are not subject to unwanted sexual advances, as this could land you with a harassment claim.
- Finally and perhaps most importantly, enjoy yourself and have a wonderful Christmas time!