Let's Party! Tips for Employer-Sponsored Holiday Parties

This tip may find some of you still recovering from your company's Halloween Party where you may, or may not, have left a lasting impression on your colleagues by way of your scandalous costume or ability to consume double the amount of alcoholic beverages than everyone else. Whether your company planned a pretty awesome party, or chose to skip over this holiday, it is important to learn from employees' mistakes and it is even more important to plan ahead to avoid those mistakes. Below are some tips to keep in mind as you plan for the upcoming holiday party season.

  • Be Proactive and Set Expectations on the Front End -

    Setting the company's expectations with regard to dress code, alcohol policies and overall conduct before the party is not only a smart legal move but it puts employees on notice and allows the employer to more easily enforce those expectations at the time of the party. It is hard for an employee to claim he or she "didn't know" if the employer is able to point to an email or two that provided such expectations.

  • Know Your Employee Policies 

    No matter how careful companies are, if alcohol is involved it is important to review your alcohol related policies to make sure they are up to date. Consider sending them out to employees as a reminder prior to the party. This also holds true when it comes to sexual harassment policies.

  • Consider the Details 

    Will the party be mandatory? Is there a concern that employees will drink too much and drive home? Is the party going to be during company hours or afterwards? Are kids or spouses invited? There are many legal implications that could arise depending on when, where and what you plan to do for your holiday party. It is important to make these considerations part of your party planning meetings because it could be the difference between a great holiday party and a horrific one.

  • Set The Tone 

    While some employees won't take direction and will drink as much as they want, it is important for those in management or to be the model for the rest of the employees. This isn't to say the management team cannot have a good time, but it is important they are encouraging employees to have a designated driver or keep a professional demeanor when drinking with colleagues.

  • Check Your Insurance 

    While this tip is not a fun part of the party planning, it is an important one. Knowing what type of activities or places are covered under your insurance and those that may not be is important when planning. You want employees to have a good time, but also make sure that if something does go wrong your company and employees are covered.   

While the tips above are by no means exhaustive, they hopefully will encourage your company and HR professionals to consider all aspects of party planning. If you would like to discuss specific questions with regard to your upcoming company party or would like a review of your employee policies please contact your Thompson Coe attorney at (651) 389-5000 or at myHRgenius@thompsoncoe.com. You can also find additional information and tips for your company and HR professionals at https://thehrgenius.com/.

 
 

Thompson Coe’s Tips of the Week are not intended as a solicitation, do not constitute legal advice and do not establish an attorney-client relationship.