It's the most festive time of year, and employers want to gather their teams for holiday parties and events. After a few years of remote and hybrid work, a company gathering will bring everyone together in celebration and merriment. HR departments, however, may be bracing for an influx of complaints or problematic circumstances around the event.
Here are important considerations around employee holiday parties to ensure a safe, joyful gathering.
Is the event inclusive?
When planning the holiday gathering, employers must consider how to create an event that is inclusive of everyone, no matter their ethnicity or beliefs. For instance, many employees may not celebrate with Christmas trees, menorahs, or gift-giving. With a more diverse planning committee, the celebration could be more exciting when a variety of individuals are allowed to suggest other traditions and food options. Also, the event can be voluntary for those who wish to opt out for various reasons. Unless they're willing to pay staff for attending an employer-mandated event, management should emphasize that employees have the option to skip it.
Remote workers should also be included in the event, even if they can't be there in person. There are lots of options that can be enjoyable from home, as we covered in our holiday post from last year.
Are there guardrails to prevent overconsumption?
If the holiday event will include alcohol, it's important to set boundaries to prevent overindulgence. One way to minimize the liability risk for employers is to hire a catering company or bartender that is insured and licensed to serve alcohol. The employer may choose to hire transportation to and from the event. Another idea is to limit the alcohol that is served, only serving beer and wine, ending alcohol sales early, providing food early and later, or hosting a lunch celebration with tasty mocktails instead.
How to Prevent Employee Misbehavior at Holiday Parties
HR managers expect to hear about various misbehaviors when employees lose their inhibition. From sexual harassment to bullying, the standards of professional conduct will naturally relax when the workplace staff is invited to enjoy themselves. Here are some considerations to help curtail bad behavior:
- Communicate about harassment and provide a safe place for reporting problems
- Hold employees accountable for their behavior at work and at any company event
- Limit alcohol
- Run pre-employment background checks to uncover previous employee complaints
While background checks can't tell the whole story, they greatly reduce the risk of negligent hiring for employers and may provide some insight into a recurring problem. These suggestions can help HR managers breathe easier while employees enjoy a festive gathering.