One thing leads to another. It is true – winter, holidays, parties! It is that time of year when HR professionals get nervous! They realize that holiday office parties are common and that they can improve morale, employee communication, and show that an organization cares about its people. As we all know, nothing in HR is simple and without consequence.
Mark Toth, Chief Legal Officer at Manpower Group NA and author of The Employment Blawg, reported that 83 percent of employers plan holiday celebrations this year, which is higher than last year’s 68 percent, but still below 90 percent in 2007. Other statistics he shared indicate that 54 percent of employers are having employee-only parties without guests and only 48 percent plan to serve alcohol.
Here are some tips for the ever vigilant HR pros:
- Be inclusive. Make sure that company gatherings don’t intentionally (or more likely unintentionally) exclude individuals within your organization. Your employees may differ greatly in terms of religion, age, ethnicity, marital status, background, and interests, so be sensitive to those differences. Make all feel welcome, but do not make attendance mandatory or give it the appearance of being mandatory.
- Invite guests. Encourage employees to bring spouses or significant others. This may help to discourage bad behavior by employees.
- Inform employees. Besides giving the time and place, employees should be reminded that company behavior standards are just as applicable off site as on site. Employees should understand that corrective action will follow for those “behaving badly” and who say or do things that are inappropriate.
- To serve or not to serve. Soft drinks and other non-alcoholic beverages should be plentiful as should food. If serving alcohol, hire a professional bartender that will help prevent underage drinking and will know when someone has had enough. Try drink tickets, limiting individuals to a certain number of alcoholic beverages.
- Managers are managers. While managers are employees too, and they should be able to enjoy themselves, it is important to make known the expectations for them while at the party. They should be setting a good example, they should support the bartender, and they remain responsible for their employees even though it is a party.
Mixing and interacting in a more relaxed environment with employees can go a long way in building trust and loyalty and can make a good impression on their guests. Using these reminders, you can have a great party and a fun experience, with no regrets or legal action!
Source: Toth, Mark. Manpower Group. “How to Have a Holiday Party without Going to Jail.” Available here.