The annual office holiday party is a tradition many employees look forward to. Company holiday parties are a wonderful time to bond as a team, show your appreciation to employees, and enjoy the season together. But before you hang the tinsel and send out the invites, make sure your office party will be memorable for all the right reasons.
Tips from the Trenches: How to Avoid Disaster for a Fun Office Party
Our team is sharing some HR stories of holiday office parties gone wrong so you can safely avoid these mistakes for a smooth and successful party. Here’s how you can embrace the holiday season festivities without regretting the morning after!
Holiday office parties often reflect a company’s culture and values, leaving a lasting impression on employees. Learn from these mistakes and take a proactive approach to curate festive fun for everyone. For every problem we’ve encountered, we’ve got a solution you can implement!
Poorly Picked Venue
The Problem: Choosing a venue known for its nightlife seemed fun until the event unfolded. Noise levels disrupted conversations, and the atmosphere was more chaotic than celebratory. A venue such as a private house created its own problems, such as the “disappearing act” – when two employees headed into rooms with each other. Even worse, they each brought a spouse to the party!
How You Can Avoid It: Control the space as best you can and choose a neutral location, such as a restaurant party room or banquet area of a hotel. Avoid breakout areas by locking or blocking any adjoining rooms or offices. While they may seem fun, skip the venues that encourage excessive drinking or make it hard to supervise behavior.
The Problem: Two words – open bar. When one person drinks too much, a whole mess of scenarios can play out. For example, a disgruntled employee had some liquid courage to grab the microphone and share complaints about his job, his thoughts about the company, and his distaste for the management team. Another holiday party involved someone’s underage guest getting caught drinking!
How You Can Avoid It: Consider drink tickets or limits for employees. Make sure there are plenty of fun “mocktails” and non-alcoholic beverages to enjoy. Ask management to keep an eye on their employees to ensure no one is getting intoxicated or out of line. Instruct serving staff to not overserve and to communicate if someone seems at risk of intoxication or danger. You can also consider hosting the party during business hours and at the office, so there is less expectation of imbibing (and bonus, less expenses!). If guests are welcome to attend, let employees know the behavior of guests will be reflected on them.
Set a culture of safety year-round by having preventative harassment training – contact your Inspire HR Consultant if you’d like to get started for next year.
The Before and After the Party
The Problem: People “pre-gamed” the party and arrived intoxicated. We once saw a team member who had been to an open-bar wedding arrive at the holiday party after hours of drinking! There’s also the never-ending party. Once a member of leadership insisted on an “after-party” at another bar, and some team members felt like they had to attend to please their boss.
How You Can Avoid It: Designate some managers to welcome guests to the party, and to say goodbye when the festivities end. If an employee is intoxicated when they arrive, they should not be permitted to enter the event. Help ensure employees have a way to get home safely by providing ride-share options, offering taxi reimbursement, or creating an incentive for designated drivers like gift cards. All work celebrations should be strictly voluntary, with designated start and end times. Remind team leaders of their role in preventing harassment and monitoring any situations of alcohol overindulgence while out with company employees.
Unclear Expectations and Embarassing Dress Code Mishaps
The Problem: Imagine someone arrives fully decked out in festive clothes, ugly Christmas sweater included – but it’s a more formal party! Not only can that be embarrassing and awkward, but it could’ve been avoided with communication about expectations and attire. We’ve seen employees who brought a guest better dressed for a nightclub than a corporate holiday party! Without clear communication, people don’t know what to anticipate.
How You Can Avoid It: Make sure the team knows what the night will include and set expectations for how the team should behave. You want to make sure everyone shows up for a good time but they shouldn’t forget this is a work event. When you announce the company holiday party, share details about what the night entails. Is it an escape room party? Are gifts expected for a secret santa gift exchange? If certain team-building activities are planned, think about what people may need to know (or wear!) in advance. Talk to your management team and ask them to relay the message. Encourage employees to ask questions so there’s no room for doubt about what the night will entail. Remind employees of company policies regarding behavior, dress code, and responsible alcohol consumption.
No Plan = No Party
Holiday parties when not meticulously planned can spiral into unforeseen mishaps. From inappropriate behavior due to excessive alcohol consumption to accidents on the dance floor, these events can pose challenges for small businesses. When there isn’t a clear plan for the party, almost anything could happen.
You can always discuss your holiday plans with your Inspiring HR consultant. Read about our team’s extensive bios and experience to find a consultant best suited to your needs. They can help you successfully navigate around potential pitfalls and discuss ways to create a festive, fun, crisis-free event!
Remember, the success of a company holiday party lies in the details and foresight. You can have the best of both worlds — a festive and fun time that fosters a positive and professional team culture. Happy party planning!
Interested in other current employment trends? Click the link to view the recent blog: 10 Ways to Keep Employees Happy Without a Pay Raise or check back for more on human resources, payroll, insurance, and benefits.