As the festive season approaches, so does the annual office gathering—an opportunity for team bonding and shared celebration! With every office party comes benefits, and potential problems. While building employee morale, bringing your team together, and lightening the atmosphere is a great thing – you can be putting your business at risk of a potential HR nightmare. Having an HR-safe holiday party is possible, you just need to set some guidelines. 

Set the Tone With Your Employees

Before any employee gathering send out a friendly reminder of your expectations via email. Use this email to reiterate your company’s policies, especially around common party problems including alcohol use, explicit language, and harassment. This email should be used to remind employees of a company culture of respectfulness and inclusion, rather than starting the party on a low note. 

Prevention is often the key to addressing potential issues. Establishing comprehensive party protocols in advance is key. Clearly communicate expectations, provide guidelines, and emphasize the professional extension of the workplace. This lays the foundation for a well-executed and enjoyable event.

The Art of Gifting

A well-thought-out gift exchange can enhance the holiday spirit! Many workplaces enjoy a Secret Santa or White Elephant gift exchange. Establishing parameters for appropriate gifts is crucial to avoid any potential missteps. Outline policies regarding gift value, and provide examples of appropriate gifts to guide employees or allow employees to create a wish list for gifts for the appropriate amount.

Alcohol Use at Holiday Parties

While alcohol use may be expected at holiday parties, it must be deeply considered by management. If you are hosting the party at your office, consider if it is appropriate to bring alcohol into your office setting or if an external location is preferred. Opt for alcohol limiting tactics for your employees like portioning out drink tickets. 

Navigating Dress Code

Remind employees that an outfit they may wear to a friend’s holiday party may not be appropriate for a work function. If your office holds a dress code you can state that employees are expected to maintain their professional dress at all times.

Navigating the intricacies of professional conduct during holiday events can be tricky. Protecting your business from potential HR problems or lawsuits is crucial. Establishing your expectations and reiterating workplace conduct requirements from the start is the best way to avoid an HR nightmare. Here’s to a safe and fun holiday season!