Office parties are a great way to show your appreciation for your employees, celebrate milestones, and build morale. However, parties can quickly get out of hand. As an employer, you have a duty to keep your team safe during work-sponsored events. Whether you’re planning a project launch party, a happy hour, or a Saint Patrick’s Day celebration, it’s always a good idea to follow these simple tips.
Remind Employees That Your Workplace Policies Also Apply at Social Events
Most employers have carefully crafted workplace policies that address harassment, discrimination, workplace violence, and other issues. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that those policies apply at all workplace-sponsored events, especially if they’re offsite and involve alcohol. Before the event, remind your team that you expect their conduct to reflect your workplace values.
Additionally, if someone complains about inappropriate party behavior, take it seriously. You should always perform a thorough investigation and take appropriate actions.
Limit Everyone’s Access to Alcohol
Your office parties and happy hours don’t have to be alcohol-driven events. There are many ways that you can encourage moderation and make these events welcoming to your employees who do not drink. For example:
- Give each employee a limited number of drink tickets rather than offering an open bar
- Ask your waitstaff and bartenders to serve lighter pours
- Only offer alcohol during dinner or for a limited period of time
- Hold a daytime event, such as luncheon, rather than an after-hours party
- Consider family-friendly events that focus on an activity other than drinking, such as bowling, a chili cook-off, an ice cream social, or a photo scavenger hunt
It’s always a good idea to ask your team for ideas—you may be surprised at what they suggest!
Furthermore, understand that not all of your employees may be comfortable around alcohol due to substance-use disorder issues, religious beliefs, and other factors. Other team members may not be able to balance their personal obligations with your office’s social calendar. Make sure your employees know that everyone is welcome, but office parties and happy hours are optional and will never impact their performance reviews or upward mobility within the company.
Ask Company Leaders to Stay Sober and Monitor the Party’s Atmosphere
Your company’s leaders should make your office parties fun, welcoming, and safe. It’s a good idea to ask your leadership team to refrain from drinking or limit their drinks to only one or two throughout the party. That way, they can keep a clear head and ensure that the team’s behavior is consistent with your workplace culture and safety rules. It’s also a good idea to have at least one person from the leadership team stay at the party until the very end.
Offer Employees Rides Home and Next-Morning Car Pickup
In 2017, California had the second-highest rate of fatal drunk driving crashes in the country. As an employer, you should do everything in your power to discourage your employees from drinking and driving.
While many of your employees may already plan on using a rideshare or taxi service to get home, incentivize this option with subsidized rides. If you have employees who resist taking a cab or rideshare because they’ll have to pick up their car in the morning, you can offer to pay for their ride back.
Alcohol-impaired driving: Traffic safety facts: 2017 data (2018, November). NHTSA. Retrieved from https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812630