7 Ways to Stop Holiday Office Party Disaster Before it Starts

by | Nov 22, 2010 | Blog, Office Party

  • Amy Letke

    Amy Newbanks Letke, SPHR, GPHR, is the Founder of Integrity HR, Inc. Amy provides workplace solutions to improve performance, reduce liability and increase profits. She is passionate about helping other entrepreneurs and business owners achieve success. Contact us for more insights - 502-753-0970 or info@integrityhr.com

Our last post dealt with How to Prevent Office Party Disaster as well, but it was more focused on the things you can do during the party to prevent things from happening and mainly dealt with the issue of alcohol.

This article focuses more on the preparation going into the party and focuses on other types of situations to watch out for with your holiday office party fun.

Here are our Top 7 Ways to Stop Holiday Office Party Disaster Before it Starts:

1.) Do not imply that attendance to the party is mandatory. Even if the party is onsite and during work hours, you need to be certain that you do not give the impression that employees must attend. Some employees have religious beliefs that prevent them from attending holiday parties; others simply are too uncomfortable in social situations to do so.

If the party is during work hours and employees will be paid during their attendance, you may give employees who do not wish to attend the option of either continuing to work or clocking out and being paid out for the rest of the scheduled work day.

2.) Have a discussion with managers to remind them that their responsibilities as managers of the company do not take a leave during the party. They are still managers and while everyone is encouraged to have a good time and enjoy one another as friends, they are expected to still behave as professionally as always.

They also need to be diligent and observant of the behavior around them – not just the abuse of alcohol, but also potential sexual harassment scenarios, inappropriate jokes or conversations spoken way too loud and way too long, etc.

3.) If employees are encouraged to give speeches or tell anecdotes, set some parameters before the event regarding what type of stories are encouraged (as in – what’s appropriate). You don’t need long term employees telling the newer generation about the good old days when the holiday parties involved togas and pony kegs. That’s sure to end in disaster.

Nor do you want to risk the younger generation playfully teasing about the “old coots” being up past their bedtime (you especially don’t want this recalled a couple of months later when a particular old coot is downsized.)

4.) Resist the impulse to give out bonus checks at a holiday party. Even though you might feel the joy of the gift giving season, unless every person is getting the same amount, it’s probably a bad idea, and even then, some people may feel like they deserved more than others. This causes enough turmoil as it is. Don’t compound the issue by doing it at a party where people are more likely to get excited and share information they wouldn’t otherwise share.

5.) Set a time frame for the party, especially if you are having it off site at a restaurant. If you clearly state that the company sponsored party is from 6pm to 10pm, you will be better equipped to fight allegations that you were responsible for the guys from accounting that were riding decorative reindeer all over town after 10pm.

This is a plain and simple disaster prevention method. Use it.

6.) Remind employees that this is a fun business event, with business being the operative word here. Remind this of this at every opportunity and especially when discussing appropriate attire. They can of course dress comfortably, but within reason.

If you’ve had a problem in the past with employees not choosing wisely, you may wish to make the party directly after work, so that their festive party clothes must also be office appropriate.

7.) Really think twice about dancing. Yes, it can be very elegant, and for young generations it can liven up what otherwise could be a boring corporate event. However, it is another opportunity for employees to fail to use good judgment, whether dancing alone, or with a colleague’s spouse.

And let’s face it – music does move us, but some people it moves in ways most people don’t wish to see.

The holiday office party is something many employees look forward to all season long.  It’s a great time to socialize with your coworkers casually in a way that you usually don’t get to do.

Unfortunately, it can also be an opportunity to let a little bad judgment ruin a good reputation and alienate colleagues.  With a little foresight, structure, and help from your management team, however, you can help to guarantee an evening of celebration without the morning after regrets.

If you missed it, be sure to check out our previous article on How to Prevent Office Party Disaster during the festivities.

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