Keys to Holding a Successful (and Safe) Holiday Party
It’s that time of year again, time for the company holiday party. This event can do wonders to improve employee morale. It can also become a fond memory to boost employee retention. But there’s also a potential downside to these parties — companies being liable for what happens at them. Holding a successful holiday party is possible, but not without careful planning.
Regardless of if these parties happen in or out of the office, the company is liable for what occurs. This can range from allegations of harassment to accidents and injuries. Organizing your holiday party in a way that prevents these scenarios is key to it being a success.
Holding a Successful Holiday Party
Careful planning to avoid common pitfalls of holiday parties is key to your success. Below you’ll find the keys to a successful and safe holiday party, one that will both improve your employees’ morale and promote employee retention. All the benefits of a holiday party can be achieved without the risks. All it takes is a plan ahead of time.
Limiting Alcohol Consumption
Deciding to serve alcohol at your company’s holiday party isn’t a bad decision. But to ensure this decision doesn’t backfire, you need to plan how you’re going to manage alcohol consumption. When unmanaged, alcohol consumption can open the company up to risks. Potential risks include inappropriate behavior and injuries/accidents.
Some ways to limit alcohol consumption include:
- Hold the party at an off time for drinking, i.e. a weeknight or an afternoon.
- Hire professional bartenders to make/serve the drinks. Instruct them not to serve anyone who appears intoxicated.
- Limit the total number of drinks each employee can have with drink tickets.
- Always serve food with the drinks, so no one is drinking on an empty stomach.
- Provide Ubers/Lyfts at the company’s expense to your employees on their way to and from the party. This expense is worth avoiding the risk of someone driving while intoxicated.
- You also need to go over your company’s policies about anti-harassment and appropriate workplace behavior. Remind your employees that even if the function is taking place outside of the office, it is still a work event. As a work event, you will hold your employees to the same standards as you do in the office.
Ask Your Employees What They Want
Before you plan a large party after work hours, ask your employees what they would like. You can do this by giving them a list of options to choose from or asking for their input. Either way, be sure to keep their answers confidential.
Planning a large holiday party won’t improve employee morale if it’s not what your employees want. New parents might not want to pay for childcare. Employees may not want to spend a night off at a company event. Acting on your employees’ desires will ensure your holiday party improves employee morale.
Alternatives to the classic holiday party include:
- Closing the office early and having a luncheon on company time.
- Hosting a dinner at a nice restaurant with significant others invited.
- Opting for a public venue, i.e. a sporting event or bowling alley.
And of course, instead of a party, you could always give to your employees. Using the budget intended for the holiday party, turn it into a bonus, or extra paid time off for your workers, or giving a donation to charity on your employees’ behalf.
The Truth About Office Holiday Parties
It isn’t possible to avoid all the risks associated with hosting a holiday party. But, by following these guidelines, you’ll save yourself from stress by planning for the worst. You also won’t make every employee happy with your decisions. But make the holiday celebration optional – particularly if it’s outside of typical business hours. Also, don’t pass judgment on those who can’t attend or choose not to attend.
Here’s to a safe and happy holiday!
- “Don’t Let Your Company Holiday Party Become a Liability.” JD Supra, 12 November 2019.