'Tis the season of madness again and, for employers, there is so much that can go wrong from employees injuring themselves putting up the office decorations, to staffing shortages due to holidays and seasonal illnesses, such as colds and flu, to disgruntled staff who think they should have received a bigger bonus or pay rise for their labours during the year, to employees suffering from the January blues and wanting a change in work arrangements or, even, employer.
Christmas and New Year are always busy times for us with alcohol consumption fuelling disputes that have been festering throughout the rest of the year. We urge all employers to nominate one (or, for large parties, more) senior member of staff to remain sober and, thereby, aware at your Christmas parties of who is drinking too much.
They should also be responsible for safeguarding any under 18's, challenging gate crashers who are not part of your company and should have the authority and be prepared to tackle any problems the moment they emerge. They need to have the authority to get another member of staff who has had too much to drink into a (paid for, if necessary) taxi home before they embarrass themselves and/or the company in public.
We also suggest that you remind all your employees, before the event, of the standards of behaviour and attitude that the company expects them to maintain at the party - including in relation to drink and drugs - and the sanctions for not following the company policy. Make it clear that employees will still be considered to be representing the company at the party and any unofficial "after-party" events, such as going on to a club after a Christmas meal. Good standards of behaviour must be maintained later in the evening, too. This, of course, will only have credence if you follow up on it should it be breached - irrespective of the seniority of the miscreant in the company!
Our final tip is to avoid "free bars" where drinks are paid for by the company. If you would like to extend the company's hospitality to more than a complementary Christmas meal, experience shows us that those employers providing two or three drinks per person, plenty of water and soft drinks fare well. Anything more - especially spirits and shots - risks trouble. Best to let your employees purchase all other drinks. As well as reducing the indulgence, this sends a clear message of how much alcohol you, as a company, are comfortable with your employees consuming.
We are, of course, hoping for all our clients that it will be a peaceful festive period this year and you won't need to call us. But, for our Advisory and Safety 365 clients, we are on call as usual on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day for any emergency situations that occur, although the office will be closed on these days. For all our other clients, if you require assistance for an incident that has happened over the Christmas period, please call us as soon as possible so we can support you to resolve it quickly.