Employers like to thank their staff for the hard work and dedication shown over the year with a party. It’s also an opportunity to put away the spreadsheets and presentations for a moment and enjoy the festive spirit. However, work will commence again soon enough. Make sure your employees know where the boundaries are for the office year end function to ensure happy and appropriate work relationships in the New Year.
Most employees and employers look forward to the company Christmas party at the end of the year. Sharing a sociable evening out with team members is a strong way to build good relationships within your company.
Stories of people behaving in inappropriate ways abound, and may even land on the internet. Though a few chuckles may be raised at the thought of someone drunkenly dancing or making a fool of themselves, there are real and serious consequences for careers if this happens. Of course, inappropriate behaviour can also go a lot further than silly antics.
Employers have a responsibility to ensure that the year end party is enjoyable and safe for all staff members. In addition, employers have a further responsibility to set clear guidelines on what will and will not be tolerated in a social setting. These guidelines need to be communicated clearly and frequently prior to the Christmas party.
The following tips may help employers prevent problematic incidents at the year end, and other company functions.
- Make employees aware of the policies and procedures in place that deal with sexual harassment, harassment and bullying.
- Clearly communicate to employees that company policies and procedures extend outside of the work environment to company social events.
- Advise employees that inappropriate behaviour which takes place in a social setting will be dealt with in the same manner as though it had taken place in the workplace.
- Remind employees that the same behaviour deemed appropriate in the work environment is required at a company social event.
- Employers and/or members of a management team should remember that an office party is not an appropriate place for discussions about salary increases, promotions or career prospects.
- It’s a wise move to have a social media policy in place and alert staff as to what they should not post on social media sites. Infringing on a person’s individual right to privacy can happen easily if photos of the office party are shared online.
- The duty of care employers have towards their staff extends to office events held out of hours. Employers need to consider travel arrangements that employees can make when the party is over and they need to travel home, i.e. ensuring that the party is being held in a venue that has good transport links.
- If complaints are made after the Christmas party, these should be investigated quickly and the relevant disciplinary procedure followed.
- Ensure that disciplinary action is appropriate and consistently applied.
With these guidelines in place, the end of year office party will be an enjoyable and team-building event.
Nollaig Shona agus Athbhliain faoi Mhaise Daoibh
04 December 2017