November 15, 2019 | Taj Soloman
Human Resources (HR) | Functions
Your Next Christmas Party
With Christmas on the horizon, companies are preparing to raise their glasses and say “cheers” to the end of the year. Some are already sensing an impending headache as end of year parties are notorious for workplace incidents. Unfortunately, this is due to a mix of alcohol and festivity which inevitably increases the risk of employees displaying inappropriate behaviour and failing to meet your HR obligations is not a risk worth taking. To help you avoid an HR disaster, here are our top tips for the festive season:
There are some risks that businesses should carefully manage in the lead up to the event and on the night itself
We advise to go with a venue that has minimal risk of accident or injury. An accessible venue with good access to transport and with plenty of food and non-alcoholic drink options is preferable. Food should be hearty and substantial particularly if alcohol is being served. It can be a good idea to conduct a risk assessment of the venue and location prior to the event and mitigating any risks. We also recommend providing a range of options including vegetarian and vegan as some staff may not eat meat or may have allergies to specific foods.
Send out notifications advising employees of the end of year parties and set your expectations!
Ensure your policies specifically cover employee behaviour at social functions. This should be communicated to all employees along with the function’s details to ensure employees understand their obligations at the party. Employees need to understand that these are work functions and employees must comply with the company’s policies and procedures. This provides evidence that the employer took all reasonably practicable steps to prevent conduct in breach of its policies.
There are always one or two who take it too far!
Many people are able to enjoy a couple of drinks without incident. However, there are always one or two who take it too far. For this reason, it is not recommended to have self-serve alcohol. Ensure that professionally trained bar staff have the responsibility of serving alcohol and ask them to let a Supervisor or Manager know if anyone is appearing inebriated or acting inappropriately. We also recommend providing non-alcoholic beverages for staff who do not wish to consume alcohol. Getting people home safely is important. Providing a private bus, taxi vouchers, or the company Uber account will ensure that employees are less likely to get behind the wheel if they have chosen to have a couple of drinks
Make sure your Christmas Party representatives are responsible!
Nominate employees from the management team to supervise the Party and who are capable of dealing with any issues that may arise at the event. These supervisors should be prepared to take action such as ceasing alcohol service or safely sending people home if it looks like negative behaviour might escalate.
Ensure that your employees are not pressured to attend events
Family tension, financial pressure, loneliness, combined with pressure to attend a myriad of parties and events can be a perfect storm with devastating results. Ensure that your employees are not pressured to attend events and try to incorporate some non-alcohol activity as part of your celebration if possible. Furthermore, keep an eye on vulnerable employees, noting your awareness that this time of year can be difficult for some. Don’t start next year with a stress claim on your desk!
If a complaint arises, make sure it is dealt with promptly and investigated in a fair and equitable manner!
Many organisations include the cost of taxi vouchers in Christmas function budget and offer a voucher to all staff who may wish to have more than a couple of drinks and who request one. Alternatively, the organisation may wish to organise employees into end of function taxi pools so that staff who live in the same direction or area share a taxi home.
Finally it should not be forgotten that many employees also attend other organisation’s functions in the course of employment, particularly at Christmas. For example, a manager may attend a string of parties or events held by advisers, suppliers or contractors to the organisation. These events present the same risk and liability issues as internal functions so organisation’s need to ensure that employees attending outside gatherings in the course of their employment understand the required standard of conduct.
How Can We Help
We believe that Outsource providers and in-house Human Resource representatives should understand their client or Employer’s business requirements and how Human Resource influences business operations. HR Pay Solutions has worked with a wide array of Australian businesses across many industries and helped them achieve operational excellence and compliance. We are a Government licensed Payroll provider and our staff possess over 15 years in the field of Human Resources and Payroll, with the “know how” to deal with your requirements.
We provide our customers with a platform and services to mitigate compliance risk, deliver business insight and gain operational efficiencies. From software to outsourcing solutions, organisations of all sizes can take advantage of HR Pay Solutions deep expertise to free their team resources and help them focus on driving greater business results.
Information provided in this blog is not legal advice and should not be relied upon.
Taj Soloman is an established people management professional with experience spanning Payroll, Human Resources, Industrial Relations, Employee Relations and Workplace Health and Safety. Taj is also the co-founder of HR Pay Solutions providing customers with a total solution to employee management.