Christmas parties are a great way for the workplace to come together and celebrate the end of the year. It’s even better if your workplace is throwing a Christmas party that is going in a different direction from last year.
Regardless of the party that your workplace is throwing, safety remains an important issue. Just because you might be celebrating Christmas outside the office doesn’t mean you aren’t in the workplace.
It’s not just about the safety of employees at the party. If something happens, it could result in litigation brought against your organisation and employees.
The best parties are the parties where everyone can have fun and feel safe at the same time. Follow these tips to ensure that employees are having fun while safety is encouraged throughout the party.
#1. Remind Everyone That It Is A Work Function
Just because there will be alcohol and entertainment at the party doesn’t mean that you’re not at the workplace.
By law, a work sponsored Christmas party is part of the workplace. That means that workplace laws apply, including laws concerning sexual harassment, occupational health and safety as well as bullying.
Employees can have fun and enjoy non-work-related activities, but company policies still apply. Remind employees that policies will be enforced if necessary, although the expectation is that everyone will have a good time.
#2. Make Sure Public Transport Is Easily Accessible
Whether you hold the Christmas party at the office or an external venue, everyone should be able to get home safely. If they don’t have their own mode of transport, options for public transport should be nearby and available.
No one should feel pressured to go home with people they don’t feel comfortable with, or drive home while inebriated. While some people will want to drive home and/or carpool, this should not be the only option for employees to return home. If the location booked for the work party is too far from public transport, make sure you assist in helping people book cabs to safely get home.
#3. Have Food Everyone Can Eat
Christmas parties have wonderful food that is deserving of an end-of-year celebration, but not everyone can or is able to eat the same food as everyone else.
Some employees may not be able to eat certain foods due to health or religious reasons. Not catering to these employees may risk health or discrimination concerns.
Your offering of food shouldn’t make people feel uncomfortable about participating. While not all foods will be eaten by everyone, no one should be risking their beliefs or lives at the dinner table.
#4. Ensure Appropriate Entertainment And Music Is Available
Employees should be able to enjoy the party’s activities without feeling offended or alienated. If you have music at your party, make sure that you pick an appropriate playlist so that people aren’t uncomfortable or even offended by the music that is played. Just because it’s a popular song doesn’t mean that it’s not offensive.
#5. Encourage Proper Behaviour
It’s important at Christmas parties that employees can have fun and connect with each other. That also means you should encourage employees to watch each other’s behaviour.
Look out for the employees who may have had one too many drinks. Remind people when their comments are going too far or become inappropriate. If actions violate company policies, prepare to step in and deal with the situation just as if you were at the workplace.
Just because it’s a fun day doesn’t mean people shouldn’t take responsibility for their actions, or that you can’t stop something before it happens.
#6. Responsible Service Of Alcohol
Many organisations serve alcohol at their work parties, and there is nothing wrong with that. People should be able to unwind, have drinks, dance and enjoy celebrating the holidays with their coworkers. Unfortunately, alcohol and inappropriate behaviour tends to go hand and hand. Make sure someone is in charge of alcoholic drinks, as you can minimise the risk of inappropriate behaviour coming from alcohol consumption.
Party Safety Is Vital
Christmas parties are fun occasions where everyone should be able to get together and celebrate the end of the year. It shouldn’t be a time where people are afraid because they can’t guarantee their physical and mental safety.
By properly educating and notifying employees, as well as taking some steps for safety, you can ensure that all employees feel safe and respected. If any problems do emerge, be prepared to deal with them appropriately.
Workplace safety is a top priority at Christmas parties, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make your Christmas party exciting with a great idea. If you and your team need to a refresher on what counts as acceptable behaviour at work parties, take a look at our course How To Behave At Work Parties.