Christmas parties are a classic annual tradition for many New Zealand businesses and organisations. It’s a chance for employees to relax and enjoy time with their colleagues, and for employers to offer a token of thanks for a year of hard work and dedication. However, it’s important that an employer takes responsibility for the event and their staff.
This can help to ensure everyone has a great time, without risking safety issues or office embarrassments.
Setting guidelines and expectations
At Christmas celebration time, make sure that you are providing some clear guidelines and expectations.
These can cover:
- What food and drinks you will provide;
- how long the event will run for;
- options for getting home after the event;
- what your expectations are for your people from a behaviour perspective; and
- a reminder about the relevant parts of your policies and code of conduct.
Your people are representing your brand whether your Christmas party is on- or off-site, and you have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to ensure that everyone celebrates safely.
Your existing policies will cover any incidents that may happen during your functions over this period. Importantly, have fun with your team!
Providing food and drinks
The expectation of a Christmas party is that there will be food and drinks of some form. Whether you’re catering in the office or heading to a restaurant, it’s important to have a plan for how to do so safely.
- consider drink limits, such as drink tickets or a bar tab maximum;
- serve plenty of food (cheese and crackers is not enough if you are serving alcohol);
- ask staff about any allergies or dietary requirements and ensure those are on offer;
- include a variety of non-alcoholic drinks and water.
Some business owners will opt to leave a party a little earlier than everyone else to allow the team to enjoy the atmosphere without the ‘boss’ there. If that’s the case, consider appointing a manager or trusted team member to help keep an eye on things without being overbearing.
Getting home after the party
You are not legally obligated to provide transport after a Christmas party, but there are steps you can take to improve your team’s safety. A simple option is to provide transport options from the location, such as bus or train timetables. You could also provide a number of sober drivers that leave at a set time, or give each team member a voucher for a taxi, or Uber or Lyft.
Transport should also be a key consideration when planning your Christmas party. A venue in the centre city might cost more, but it might be easier for staff to get home safely via public transport, so it’s important to think about the full picture when booking a venue.
If you have questions about your obligations at your upcoming event or have other HR, employment, and people questions about the coming holiday period, don’t hesitate to contact the Hello Monday team directly either by email firstname.lastname@example.org or 09 377 5200. We will be manning the phones throughout the holiday period to ensure we’re on hand should an incident occur or a question arise.