Celebrate the smart way: Office party dos and don’ts

Crystal Spraggins, SPHR

Well waddaya know? ‘Tis the season again. Pretty soon boxes of cookies, candies, and cheese assortments will be coming through the door—gifts from your vendors and also a reminder to everyone that party time is near!

You’ve got a workplace celebration planned, of course, because it’s a tradition. When it comes to party particulars, however, here are a few other traditions you might want to get rid of this year.

No appetizers and an open bar

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Yes, many people enjoy a little holiday cheer with their holiday cheer, but giving employees access to all manner of drink and no food is not a good idea. If the main course won’t be served right away, having a few snacks to coat your employees’ stomachs is a definite “do.”

The employee “appreciation” roast

Every year you take this time to recognize employees who’ve reached milestone anniversaries with your company, and since you’re the type that likes to do things with a personal touch, you always say a few words about each honoree before presenting him or her with an award. Just be sure that your banter doesn’t cross the line, because that’s a serious “don’t.”

Saying things like “Come on up here, you old man!” to anyone aged 40 or older or making fun of Stan’s nervous condition or the time Milly got a little crazy at the sales meeting while commenting that “My it’s good to have her back after that stint in rehab,” is just not the way to go. Sometimes people laugh at things they don’t actually find funny, and you don’t want any of your well-intentioned jokes coming back to bite you in the ho, ho, ho, I’m sure.

Mandatory attendance

I know, you can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t be thrilled to come to the party, right? But it’s true, some of your employees would rather be doing something else. Maybe they’re shy, or busy, don’t like their coworkers very much, or really value their time away from work. Whatever the reason, let ‘em be, unless you want to pay them for being there, because failure to compensate your non-exempt employees for attending a mandatory work function is a clear “don’t.”

No designated driver program or taxi service

If you’re serving alcohol, take steps to ensure that everyone arrives home safely. Assign someone to organize designated drivers and make sure anyone who drinks doesn’t drive. That’s smart, and a definite “do.”

Not taking complaints seriously

If someone behaves inappropriately at the gathering and someone else complains, don’t dismiss the complaint under the old “It’s a party. Sometimes people get a little out of hand” attitude. That’s disrespectful to the individual bringing the grievance and a good way to turn an issue that could have been handled in-house into something way more complicated—in other words, a definite “don’t.”

The holidays are supposed to be fun! So, keep it healthy, keep it safe, and mind your party dos and don’ts.

Happy Holidays everyone!


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