HR Expert: Christmas Parties
Many of my clients have Christmas parties coming up. Do you have any pointers on how they can reduce the likelihood of any problems occurring?

Christmas parties are fun events, often organised to thank staff for their hard work throughout the year. There is, however, a darker side to these events that could cause minor or even serious problems. Once invites have gone out to all members of staff, regardless of their religion or beliefs, your clients should proactively plan how they will organise the event to limit issues cropping up. Here are some tips:

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  • Before the event, your clients can remind staff about the standards of behaviour that will be expected of them at the party. This can include examples of what is, and isn’t, acceptable conduct. This reminder may be in the form of a staff email or by re-sending the internal policy on social events to all members of staff. It will also be useful to reiterate that the Christmas party is likely to be classed as a part of their employment so the normal company rules on conduct, harassment etc continue to apply.
  • Consider the provision of alcohol during the event, as endorsing a free bar or unlimited drinks will support an argument that your clients should be held responsible for any drunken misconduct. Instead, your clients could consider offering a complimentary drink on arrival and then having drinks vouchers or happy hours during the event. Your clients should also ensure there are plenty of soft drinks available throughout the whole of the party.
  • Any food provided at the event should be sufficient for all dietary needs and clearly labelled, especially those provided for religious observance. Having a range of food that caters for different tastes will avoid any grumbles from employees.
  • Your clients can choose to designate a manager as the person responsible for reviewing conduct during the event. Although not as fun, this could be done on a rota basis to ensure this is fairly allocated. The manager can be brought issues as they arise and can observe employees’ behaviour during the event to ensure this is appropriate.
  • Although the party has ended, the journey home can be classed as part of the event. Your clients may wish to consider how staff will make their way home safely. They could introduce a designated driver scheme or arrange guaranteed fares with a local taxi firm for the night.
  • Following the party, any issues that cropped up during the event should be addressed appropriately in a timely manner. This will include taking any disciplinary action for acts of misconduct and dealing with grievances that have been brought following events at the party.

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