Holiday Parties: Be Festive but Beware

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…There’ll be parties for hosting…”

Yes, the season of celebration (sometimes to excess!) is upon us once again. The office holiday party is a December mainstay for many businesses, and such events can indeed be a “wonderful” opportunity to enjoy time with your staff in a fun, relaxed setting and celebrate the team’s successes over the past year.

However, they can also present challenges for employers: how can you be festive and be careful at the same time? The key is striking the right balance between having fun and maintaining the safety and well-being of you and your workers (while limiting your liability in the process).

With that in mind, the following post covers some basic dos and don’ts that we encourage employers to consider when planning their holiday parties:

Dos and Don’ts

  1. Do revel in the holidays.
  2. Do express appreciation for your staff, as well as for their families and significant others for indirectly supporting your business.
  3. Do show your own humanity – bosses are people too!
  4. Do be culturally sensitive and celebrate diversity. Acknowledge your employees’ various faiths and belief systems and take the opportunity to learn about each other.
  5. Do be clear with staff about your company’s expectations for employee conduct during off-site, after-hours events. (Harassment policies should already be in place, and should cover both on- and off-duty behaviour.)
  6. Don’t celebrate without a plan:
    • Do identify points of contact among your staff to help you keep an eye out for inappropriate behaviour.
    • Do communicate with staff before the event about key details such as how rides will be arranged and your expectations that no one will drive after consuming any kind of intoxicants (including marijuana/cannabis).
    • Do your part to put reasonable limits on alcohol intake by using drink tickets and hiring trained serving staff.
    • Do help ensure safe rides home by providing taxi chits, renting a shuttle bus, or establishing ride shares.
  7. Don’t encourage or tolerate over-serving.
  8. Do monitor your workers during the event and make sure to send home those who are getting out of control.

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