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Tips for a Happy (and Safe) Holiday Party
Over two-thirds of participating organizations (67.4%) reported that they will have an organization-wide holiday party this year according to HEC's 2018 Holiday Practices Survey. Company holiday parties can boost employee morale and build camaraderie, but companies must not overlook the liabilities that can come with hosting such an event. Some of these issues include religious discrimination, sexual and other harassment, workers compensation and wage claims, and other problems that may arise when alcohol is involved. Here are some tips to help keep your holiday party safe and enjoyable for everyone.
- Keep it Non-Denominational – Be as inclusive as possible in your choice of decorations and music. Celebrate the holiday season as opposed to one specific holiday.
- Voluntary Attendance – Nobody wants to be forced to be somewhere they don’t want to be. Additionally, if attendance at the party is mandatory, you may open yourself up to FLSA and wage and hour claims.
- Limit Alcohol – The safest approach is to not serve alcohol. However, if the company decides to serve alcohol, consider the following:
- Hire a professional bartender to do controlled/light pours instead of permitting employees to serve themselves;
- Cut off alcohol service at least one hour before the end of the party;
- Provide drink tickets with a two-drink maximum per person;
- Provide food and entertainment so alcohol is not the focus of the party; and/or
- Arrange for company-paid transportation for any employee who cannot safely drive.
- Leaders Should Set the Tone – Communicate to your managers that they are responsible for setting the example of appropriate behavior at the party. Managers should keep an eye out for employees who may be drinking in excess or behaving inappropriately.
- Prevent Inappropriate Behavior – Consider sending an email from the CEO to employees before the party reminding them that the company's rules of conduct apply at the holiday party, including policies on harassment, dress code, and social media. You may also want to invite spouses or significant others to the party, which may help employees be on their best behavior.
- 2018 Holiday Practices Survey Results Summary
- To Holiday Party or Not to Holiday Party? Guidelines to Avoid a Legal Hangover!