When the party is over...

Leapfrog Christmas Cheers

As Mariah Carey thaws and Michael Bublé graces Asda adverts, it's a sign that Christmas is just around the corner! With the festive season comes the much-anticipated company Christmas parties – where terrible festive jumpers and cringe-worthy cracker jokes abound, and unfortunately, sometimes too much alcohol leads to regrettable impulse decisions that wouldn't occur during normal working hours.

While most employers hope to avoid inappropriate situations, the chances of them occurring at an office Christmas party increase. It's crucial to consider the risks and, where possible, prepare in advance. Remember, employers are responsible for their employees' behavior during a party – whether it's on the usual working premises or not, as a ‘works’ do is considered an extension of the workplace. Employees must still abide by company policies, so it's useful to remind staff of the practices they should uphold before festive gatherings.

How can employers prepare, you ask? Simple steps include arranging transport to ensure employees aren't driving home, providing a way for potentially vulnerable individuals to get back safely, and having contact information for transport companies on hand. While it may not be possible to prevent someone from taking advantage of a free bar, employers can set a limit on the tab, ensure food is provided to absorb some alcohol, and have soft drink options readily available.

Employers can also make it clear in advance that no inappropriate behavior, including harassment, will be tolerated. While keeping it light-hearted, emphasize that anything deemed inappropriate, even in a festive setting, could lead to dismissal. For parties before a working day, advise staff that failing to come into work the next day due to overindulgence may lead to disciplinary action. And, of course, there's the issue of social media presence! Remind employees that what seems funny or a good idea at the time could come back to haunt them via social media channels.

Staff parties involve working members, making employers responsible for their employees' behavior. As the saying goes, ‘by failing to prepare, you prepare to fail.’ Put in the work now so you can relax when tucking into your turkey, singing your heart out to ‘Last Christmas,’ and dancing in your tinsel-topped Santa hat!