Whether you're new to a company, or a 20-year veteran, you probably look forward to kicking back at your organisation's end-of-year holiday party. Free food, drinks, dancing and celebrating the last few months, all sounds like a great time.
However, a few of these things can lead to huge risks for a company and its people. Holiday parties tend to heighten employee misconduct and can have huge ramifications the morning (or Monday) after.
Risks at the holiday work party:
Unfortunately, work parties can increase the chance of serious risks to your organisation and people. Many things that can make a party a raging good time are the same things that make people forget that they're still at a work function (despite being offsite), and the same behavioural policies that apply in the office, apply at the work party.
Risk that your organisation may face this silly season, could include:
- Lawsuits for sexual harassment or bullying claims.
- Costs involved in providing counselling to impacted employees.
- HR involvement in dismissal of employees for sexual harassment or other unacceptable behaviour.
- Brand or reputational damage. While it may sound extreme, imagine if your organisation is in a national newspaper over employee misconduct claims, and court proceedings.
- Compensation for employees impacted because of injuries sustained whilst intoxicated.
So what can HR, Compliance or even the C-Suite do to reduce or mitigate these risks?
In the webinar, Lindsay covered a handful of steps you can take to mitigate risks this silly season. These include:
The first step to protecting your organisation is having a policy that is specifically for work parties and functions. If you don't already have one, you should write a policy on work function behaviour, and make sure acceptable/unacceptable behaviour is clearly outlined. Take time to outline the consequences or disciplinary actions that might be taken as a result.
Policy only helps if people have read and reviewed it. If you already have policies in place for work functions, make sure you publish this to all employees at critical times throughout the year. Think: end-of-financial year, holidays, and any other functions you may be hosting throughout the year, but internally and client-side as well.
Sending out an email to your staff, explaining appropriate behaviour is one crucial step in protecting both your organisation and people. Remind your employees of the behaviour that is expected of them when you send out the initial invitations whether via email or your intranet. Be clear about start and end times, and state that unofficial parties are not endorsed by your organisation. Consider having your CEO send out the email personally to your entire organisation. Remember tone-starts at the top, and that includes conduct as well. It's a small move, but an incredibly powerful one.
If you don't already have an email drafted for your work parties, check out our free email template here.
Having clear policies for your work parties and functions, and communicating them to your employees is the foundation to protecting your organisation. The next step is to properly implement your policies, which is done through effective training. If your organisation has policies on bullying, sexual harassment, and other types of misconduct, but never followed it up with training, then your defence to vicarious liability will be inadequate.
If your organisation hasn't properly trained your staff on appropriate behaviour at work parties check out the Appropriate Behaviour at Work Parties holiday offer.
We've slashed the prices way down to ensure your team is refreshed on what the no-no's are at the work party. The course covers:
- What constitutes 'the workplace' under law
- Sexual harassment
- Drugs and alcohol
- Social media and online communication.
Manage the supply of alcohol, especially if you aren't using a licensed venue with staff that are trained in the responsible service of alcohol. Find out more about starting a risk analysis for your business.
Duty of Care
Remind staff about use of public transport, taxis and Ubers to and from the event to avoid employees drink driving. Your organisation has a moral and legal obligation to ensure the safety of its employees.
Be aware that with social media and smart phones, live streaming of Christmas party mishaps could appear on Facebook, along with photos and videos being posted to Twitter and Instagram. Employees posting on social media can also result in claims of bullying, harassment and defamation. Make sure your policies also include social media and electronic communication use when at work.
Want a little helping hand from the Learning Seat team before that upcoming work party?
Contact us today to see how we can help you create the perfect program for you and your team.