Creating a celebration your team will remember – for all the right reasons

It’s that time of year. Planning and preparation for holiday functions has commenced for many with everyone keen to unwind and have fun after months of hard work.

Time to read: 3 mins

It’s that time of year. Planning and preparation for holiday functions has commenced for many with everyone keen to unwind and have fun after months of hard work. 

While part of the process is making logistical arrangements, there are also employer responsibilities to ensure that attendees clearly understand what behaviour is expected of them.  

Maintaining employee safety, health and wellbeing (both physical and psychological) fall under your responsibility as an employer, so having clear guidelines is in everyone’s best interest whether events are held at work or offsite, or during or outside of normal work hours. 

If there is an alleged incident and misconduct that links to the work environment, employers are required to investigate any formal complaints received. One could also argue that they are morally obliged to address and investigate undesirable behaviour, even in the absence of formal complaints. Outcomes could include a sanction or dismissal in cases of proven serious misconduct.

Christmas work functions and potential problems

The “responsible host” concept and its meaning is not new and none of us want to find ourselves in a position where we have had some role in creating situations where others’ personal wellbeing has been put at risk. As we all know, stimulants (most commonly alcohol) can lead to instances of poor judgement and these are not exclusive to non-work functions. 

A few things that we recommend employers do in preparation for their work celebrations are:

Before the event:

  • Reinforce the intent of the event – to have fun, and to recognise and celebrate everyone’s contribution
  • Making people aware of behavioural expectations and supporting both employer and employee responsibilities to maintain a positive and healthy employment relationship
  • Arrange for appropriate and plentiful food to be available – if alcohol is part of the event, something significant and hearty to balance out alcohol consumption
  • Provide access to transport to get employees home safely

During the event:

  • Walk the talk – be an example of responsible and fun behaviour
  • Plan activities that bring focus to things other than drinking
  • Provide easy access to food and provide a balance between the consumption of food and alcohol by delivering food to the table
  • If you see behaviour that is becoming undesirable, address it quickly and discreetly, and if necessary provide support in ending the behaviour (e.g. transport home)

Employers and employees should look out for one another to ensure that unacceptable behaviour does not spoil the party. Christmas should be fun for everyone.

Your HR advisor may be able to provide a Panadol after an event, but we can be much more effective beforehand!  Please get in touch with our HR teams in Auckland, Taranaki or Hawke's Bay if you need any advice.  

DISCLAIMER No liability is assumed by Baker Tilly Staples Rodway for any losses suffered by any person relying directly or indirectly upon any article within this website. It is recommended that you consult your advisor before acting on this information.

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