Snog, Marry, Avoid – An employer’s guide to the Christmas party season

WHEN I worked in corporate world I used to dread the holiday season. I was guaranteed to be embroiled in some disciplinary matters after the company office shenanigans turned sour. The grabbing of the Training Manager by one of the engineers for a snog on the dance floor, the lusty glances of two married (to other people) co-workers turning into something more and being caught in flagrante in the cupboard, or the fisty cuffs after one too many beers! Yep that’s right; the snog, marry, avoid consequences of what you all think is just a harmless opportunity to mingle.
According to an Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) survey of UK managers and workers

  • Almost 9 out of 10 workers (87 percent) have seen colleagues drink too much
  • And 48 percent have gone to work with a hangover after their office party

So please (and I hate to be the ‘bah humbug’ amongst you all but…) take the opportunity NOW to set the parameters for the party and give clear guidelines to all your staff of expectations.

  1. It’s a ‘work party’ therefore they are effectively at work – let them know that work related social functions such as the Christmas party/lunch can be an extension of the workplace and the same standards of behaviour expected.  Telling your HR Director she’s a ‘heartless unfeeling machine’ as you walk out into the cold night air will get you into bother! (yes someone really did that to me!)
  2. Brief out the absence procedures – tell them up front what will happen if they pull a sickie to recover from that handover.
  3. Remind the staff of your social media policy – inappropriate pictures #CompanyName can cause reputational embarrassment, not to mention the potential harassment fall out from the object of that tweet/Facebook post!
  4. Ensure your disciplinary procedure is up to date – it needs to be clear on what is acceptable or unacceptable behaviour and ensure when applying it you are consistent.
  5. Make sure everyone knows the Bullying and Harassment policy – a small reminder that offensive behaviour on the grounds of sex, race, age, sexual orientation, disability or religion and belief won’t be excused just because it happens at the party won’t go amiss. I was unfortunate to have to deal with a name calling incident between two colleagues – one thought it just a laugh, the other took real offence so it’s wise to make sure people know to check themselves.
  6. And with that in mind remind all of the drink/drive limits – and if they are not driving, just remind them again it’s an office function and being drunk may impact how people perceive them the next day – pointing and sniggering as they walk into the office is hardly career enhancing is it?

I have to admit it’s rare I get drunk at such an event; after all I’m just as likely to tell the staff what I think of them! So with a few up front actions you could prevent the post party disciplinary hangover.

For more help and advice about HR Holiday season issues contact us