Office parties: Keep those holiday spirits from wrecking the holiday spirit

by on December 19, 2013 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Cafe

If you’re like the majority of American employers, you’re probably having a holiday party. According to the Wall Street Journal, three of five employers are. And there are lots of good reasons for doing so, ranging from building team spirit to lifting morale to communicating your interest in employees as people outside of work hours.

For many employers — 61% of those who are having parties, according to SHRM — alcoholic drinks will be part of the fun. And yes, it’s safe to say that for the majority of American adults, drinking IS fun. After all, according to Gallup, two-thirds of us do imbibe from time to time.

Partying too hearty
But it’s not so fun for employees or employer if drinking leads to such behavior as sexual harassment or fights at the party, or drunken driving afterward. Consequences can range from discrimination lawsuits to workers comp cases to civil action against the employer under social hosting laws, where a drunken employee injures a third party.

It’s in view of these possible consequences that 51% of employers hosting office parties are limiting or mitigating alcohol consumption through one or more of these mechanisms:

  • Cash bar
  • Drink tickets
  • Supply of attractive (i.e., other than sugary soda) non-alcoholic beverages (sparkling water, pure fruit juices, cider, etc.), and
  • Serving food rich in starch and/or protein, which “sop up” alcohol in the stomach and slow its absorption into the bloodstream.

Driving Miss (and Mr.) Drunkard
Wise employers may also want to help overindulging employees arrive home after the party with their limbs and drivers licenses intact. Think about arranging designated drivers or even a bus for employee transportation. Also, you can have trustworthy folks monitor alcohol consumption and call taxis for people who clearly shouldn’t be behind the wheel.

And finally, don’t forget to check with your insurance broker beforehand to make sure you’re covered for such unhappy eventualities as workers comp injuries (depending on your state and whether party attendance is mandatory) and social hosting lawsuits.

So with all of that said, party on, you wild and crazy employers!

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