'Tis the season to be jolly, and offices around the country are wrapping up the year with Christmas and New Year’s Eve parties.
While these parties are social and fun events, the combination of alcohol and relaxed atmosphere can create an environment conducive to inappropriate staff behaviour.
A recent Australian Drug Foundation poll found that 20% of Victorian employees have experienced unwanted or inappropriate behaviour from an intoxicated person at a work function, and 3% have suffered an injury as a result of being intoxicated at a work function.
In order to ensure staff safety, avoid unacceptable behaviour and reduce potential risk, organisations need to show that they have taken reasonable steps to prevent injury or discrimination from occurring at work functions.
Here's some practical steps you can take to make sure your event is incident free:
Clearly Communicate The Expectations
Informing staff about acceptable standards of behaviour is a key component of an incident-free Christmas function. Making your organisation's Code of Conduct available and discussing expectations at team meetings will educate staff about their obligations, and remind them that they are still accountable to the policies of their workplace when attending a work function.
Control Alcohol Consumption
Drinking in moderation is a mantra helpful in most social situations, but it's especially applicable to the Christmas work function. Avoiding automatic top-ups and discontinuing service during speeches and formalities can help people keep track of their drinking, and slow down consumption. You can also take your function's focus away from alcohol by planning more active parties and functions and offering various kinds of entertainment.
Provide Transport And Taxi Vouchers
Ensuring staff have a safe ride home is a great way to dissuade staff from reaching for the car keys if they've had a few too many. Many organisations now provide vouchers that subsidise the cost of a taxi fare, offering a financial incentive to leave the car at home. For more information on taxi vouchers, contact your city's taxi authority.
Have A Plan For Managing Intoxicated Guests
Despite your best efforts, there's a reasonable chance that at least a few staff will over-indulge. It's helpful to accept this reality and be prepared in advance rather that finding yourself in 'react' mode should anyone start pushing the limits of acceptable behaviour. Offering an intoxicated guest some food, water, a stroll outside and a taxi home will help manage staff behaviour before any problems arise.
Designate An Employee To Monitor Behaviour During The Function
Much like a designated driver, this person is someone who is happy to stay low-key and offer a watchful eye over the night's proceedings. They're well versed in the acceptable standards of staff behaviour and comfortable with situations where they may need to manage boisterous colleagues. Preferably they are first-aid qualified and able to administer assistance if the need arises.