The practice Christmas party should be a happy time. However, unfortunately it can all too easily turn into a nightmare.
Just because the party is outside practice hours or held somewhere other than the practice premises doesn’t mean that the duties of the employer and employee cease to exist. Here are our top ten tips for enjoying a stress free Christmas party:
1) Whilst you want people to have fun, you are all still representatives of the practice, so clarify what behaviour is/ is not expected.
Ultimately an employer is entitled to discipline an employee who brings their business into disrepute, whether that is during or outside working hours, but you should clarify expectations prior to any event, as illustrated in the recent case of MBNA Ltd v Jones UKEAT/0120/15/MC which you can read about here.
2) No publicity please
Even if you have a robust social media policy help avoid potential embarrassment to colleagues and potential “disrepute” by encouraging employees not to post, (particularly photos involving colleagues) on social media until at least the next morning and ensure they get permission of anyone else in the photo.
3) Limit alcohol intake
We all know that excess alcohol causes problems so have plenty of non-alcoholic alternatives. Create “diversions” or things for colleagues to do so that there is less focus on just drinking too much. Perhaps you can organise entertainment or have some relevant “party games” which will also be a great team-building opportunity,
4) Avoid any discrimination
On the theme of non-alcoholic alternatives, one way to help limit the effects of all colleagues is to ensure that everybody’s religious and personal beliefs are taken into account.
However, do also think about inclusion. For example, think about the location of the party to account for any disabled colleagues or those who may be offended by, for example, a party held in a night club and whether any colleague will be excluded from what you have planned.
5) Make sure that someone remains “in charge”
You really need to make sure that someone responsible is available to monitor any behaviour so that they can have a quiet and informal confidential chat to avoid things getting out of control. Someone who can draw the line between what is “having fun” and behaviour which is starting to cross a line.
6) Organise transport
You want employees to get home safely and of course avoid any temptations to “drink and drive.”
You could use some of your budget to organise transport to and from the practice/venue or ensure that the person “in charge” is armed with public transport timetables and the number of local taxi firms to help people get home safely.
7) Next working day
Be clear about who is expected to work the next day so that unauthorised absences (and you having to deal with it) can be avoided.
8) Under the Influence
Be sure that employees know that they can’t turn up to work “under the influence” and be clear about the consequences of this, according to your procedures,
9) Clearing up
If anything has got out of hand, deal with it in accordance with your disciplinary procedure.
10) Have Fun!
Finally, whilst you do need some “rules,” encourage everybody to relax and enjoy themselves, including you.