December is here, and it’s time for annual company holiday parties. Love or loathe them, company gatherings can be minefields to navigate for both the host and attendees, where there’s no shortage of food, camaraderie, and plenty of alcohol.
So, how do you navigate this custom with class? Here is a checklist for employers and employees to keep on hand, to make sure that everyone enjoys company gatherings without things going sideways:
1. Set the tone for the event in the invitation—outline company expectations around attendance and behavior.
2. Establish and communicate clear guidelines for any expenses incurred by employees as a result of their attendance at the event.
3. Set clear start and finish times that are easy to understand and leave no room for interpretation. Define what is on company time.
4. Partner with a rideshare company to offer a coupon, or agree with executive management on responsible transport policies for the event.
5. Offer substantial food at the event—if not a sit-down meal, ensure that there are portions of food that are easy to eat and filling. Take employee dietary restrictions into account, to help them feel included.
6. Use the formal welcome as an opportunity to include a statement about cultural expectations around drinking in moderation. Employees want to feel safe, welcome, and included. Ensure that non-alcoholic alternatives are available and visible.
7. Offer drink tickets to employees for alcoholic drinks to help them maintain a count of the number of drinks consumed.
8. Lead by example and moderate your own drinking at the event. As a company leader, there are ways to offer hospitality without employees feeling pressured to consume.
9. Watch for at-risk situations and nominate senior staff to keep an eye out for changes in behavior. Drinking affects people differently and awkward situations can quickly escalate.
10. Identify at-risk behavior and, if necessary, discreetly intervene, and take action to remove inappropriate staff and diffuse the situation.
1. Understand the company expectations and guidelines for the event. Don’t feel pressured to attend or drink at the event if you do not feel safe and welcomed.
2. If you are concerned about possible excessive drinking, identify a friend or partner to keep you accountable. If the event does not allow for a plus one, ask a colleague to be your lookout.
3. Eat before you go, or if it’s a formal meal, be sure to sit and eat until you are full.
4. If it’s a sit-down meal, be certain to keep a 1:1 ratio of water to wine and avoid refills of half-full glasses. Ask the server remove the glass if that helps stop temptation to keep drinking.
5. Keep an eye out for your workmates for any at-risk situations; people have different physiological tolerances to alcohol, so keep an eye out when wine alcohol flows freely.
6. Ask senior leadership for the policy around mindful drinking and appropriate behavior. Starting this conversation shows both that you are interested in hearing their opinion, and also that you are holding them accountable for the behavior at company events.
7. Ask questions and be very clear about the policies around taxis and ride-sharing services, and know the company policies for expenses for company events.
8. All company policies relating to workplace dress, use of language and workplace harassment are still in effect, so be mindful of your behavior.
9. Don’t be the last one at the party and leave at an appropriate time—your reputation will thank you.
10. Thank a senior leader for their hospitality. Holiday parties are a business expense and a way to thank employees for the hard work over the year. Be gracious.
5 Quick Tips for a Great Holiday Party:
1. Understand the company guidelines for drinking at company events. It’s still business.
2. Drink one water to one alcohol and eat before you go or eat as soon as you arrive.
3. Have a party buddy to keep your drinking in check.
4. Watch for any colleagues that may be at risk from unwanted behavior.
5. Be a gracious guest. Say your goodbyes and thank yous.
Keep tabs on your drinking, keep your boundaries firm, and look out for one another. Above all, share a glass to celebrate your 2019 successes, and here’s to a productive, safe, and happy 2020.
This story was originally published on A Balanced Glass.
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