‘Tis the season to be jolly… but not too jolly! Christmas parties often resolve in some frolics, last year a long-serving Avon and Somerset policeman was dismissed after touching a female staff member on the bottom, following a slap which left marks, plus other drunken antics – breaching professional standards, he was charged with gross misconduct and has been dismissed from the force.

Sadly, this isn’t the first of its case, Christmas parties are notoriously renowned for bringing the worse out in some team members – as business owners it can sometimes be a costly process and amount to compensation pay-outs to employees if an employer is liable for the actions of its employees (vicarious liability).

Without taking the fun away, boundaries do need to be set at Christmas parties, here are our suggestions for a trouble-free Christmas party:

  • Don’t offer a free bar: whilst this may initially sound like a ‘scrooge’ approach, we need to consider the stats and most of the HR related issues from Christmas Parties arise under the influence of too much alcohol. Therefore, offering a welcome drink, or perhaps a bottle or two per table, might be a nice compromise – but you don’t need to provide a free bar all evening, this will only encourage unnecessary and inappropriate behaviour. Ensure there are lots of non-alcoholic alternative drinks too.
  • Be creative: use the Christmas party not just as an event to drink and eat, consider it as a team building opportunity. Possibly offering some form of entertainment (a quiz) or alternatively offer a day-time event/lunch rather than just an evening event. Timing is a big consideration, promoting a day-time event will reduce the number of heavy drinkers and still offer the team the chance to relax and chat outside of the office – not eating into their valuable personal time either, it may be a preferred option. There are many local firms which offer a variety of team building activities; Locked in a Room, Bristol or perhaps a Chocolate Making Afternoon,  just two options that are different, fun and enjoyable.
  • Manage expectations with management: depending on the size of your business and teams, it’s advisable in advance of the event to have an informal conversation with managers to ensure expectations are set. Reminding them where the relevant policies are; anti-harassment and bullying policy/social media policy. Again, depending on the type of business, it may also be worthwhile ensuring at least one member of each team has a non-drinker; there to support and calm any incidents that may occur.

Many people spend the majority of their time at work and have formed friendships and deserve to be treated, especially during the festive season. It’s good to acknowledge this but also have boundaries in place to avoid any awkward and incriminating incidents occurring.

Wishing you a happy, fun and sensible Christmas Party!

If you would like any advice on your policies or support with planning a team building event, please do get in touch and we would love to support you, call us on 0844 8546704 or email us at info@citrushrconsulting.com.