As the end of the year approaches, management heads and Human Resource departments are planning end-of-year events for employees. These months and holidays are a time to give gifts, bonuses, and show appreciation to both employers and employees for their hard work. It’s also a time to relax and celebrate with colleagues without the pressures of being at work.
These types of events can, however, cause some problems if employers and employees aren’t careful. The last thing any company wants is to remember a holiday party in a negative light, or become liable for something done or said that could have been avoided. Beyond the unwritten rules of drinking in moderation, avoiding the topics of religion and politics, and not being awkward under the mistletoe, here are 6 ways to ensure the annual holiday party doesn’t ruin your new year.
Don’t focus on religion
While the majority of the population celebrates a holiday during the last few months of the year–whether religiously or secularly–it is important to note that not everyone celebrates the same holidays, or holidays at all. The EEOC and courts deem that many decorations are secular, but be sure to offer reasonable accommodation to employees who celebrate other holidays. Title VII protects against religious discrimination and should be adhered to. Make your holiday party educational and include a little of all holidays during this season, or don’t make it about religious holidays at all but an end-of-year gathering.
Restrict alcohol consumption
It’s no secret that social events will likely include alcohol. However, no employer wants to see their employees or property hurt or held liable for something done while intoxicated. Keep drinks to a maximum of two with the help of drink tickets and provide plenty of food to keep your employees and guests full. Have other beverage options available for designated drivers and those who choose not to drink. It may be helpful to have a catered event where there are servers who can limit the consumption of alcohol and assist in preventing any possible mishaps.
Along with restricting alcohol consumption, it is important for employers to plan for the end of the party: getting home. Any incidents that occur from the actions or words of inebriated employees later in the night almost certainly will be the employer’s liability. Car accidents and harassment claims are some things that no one wishes to encounter–particularly during the holidays. Make sure there are designated drivers among your guests, call for cabs, or make a company Uber account to get people home without the worry of paying.
Don’t forget +1’s
The more, the merrier! For events outside of normal working hours and locations, don’t forget to allow for +1s: spouses, partners, or friends. You may also want to invite contractors and interns if applicable to any existing or previous projects. Plan to have both enough room for everyone (this includes parking) and enough food for all of your guests.
Don’t make it mandatory
Wage and hour laws require that employees be paid if they are required to attend a holiday party or gathering if it is held after hours. If you make the holiday party voluntary, this helps you to avoid a few things. For those who do not celebrate holidays or wish not to participate, it alleviates any pressure they may feel to attend. By not handing out additional things like bonus checks or gifts during this time, you are not alienating those who chose not to attend.
Keep it appropriate
Human Resource departments can use the holiday season to refresh employees in all levels of the company on anti-harassment policies, dress code policies, and any other policies that the company maintains. Harassment can take the form of comments, provocative attire, or inappropriate gifts during a gift exchange. It can also be a good idea to steer clear of dance floors and mistletoe…not everyone wants the privilege of seeing a co-worker’s infamous drunk dance.
The end of the work year can be a fun and festive time, but as an employer be sure to setup events and parties that will not ruin the coming year. Innovative Career Resources can staff your company with high-quality talent, as well as with employees who will be a great fit for your company culture during any season of the year. Innovative can also find careers for job candidates that will provide them with fun out-of-office events!