WageWatch Ibrief Blog



Office Party

Hosting a holiday party has been a tradition among many companies as a way to reward employees, boost morale, and encourage team spirit.  This year, fewer employers are planning to host a party.  Based on a recent study, only two-thirds of companies intend to host a holiday party, the lowest percentage since 2009.  Economic factors do not seem to be a reason as companies report tax savings and a thriving economy.

Among companies sponsoring a party, nearly 60 percent have real concerns about sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior, especially in light of the #MeToo movement.  More than half of these companies have addressed the #MeToo issue this year and if not, one-third indicated that they will do so prior to the party.

If you are planning a holiday party, there are some proactive steps that can be taken to lessen your company’s liability:

  • Establish written anti-harassment policies and publish in employee handbooks; reference the policies prior to the holiday party
  • Send a memo to remind employees to act responsibly and professionally (address company’s stance on pictures being posted to social media as well as the dress/attire for the party)
  • Ensure employees understand attendance is voluntary (especially when held outside of normal work hours)
  • The focus for the holiday decorations, music, and gifts should be seasonal in nature and not religious
  • Emphasize to management that they should lead by example
  • Consider having a holiday party in which no alcohol is served
  • Hold the party offsite; it limits the company’s liability
  • Set-up a cash bar—guests will drink less if they are required to pay
  • If alcohol is served, set a tone of moderation. Consider providing a limited number of drink tickets per guest, restrict the types of alcohol served, and/or only serve alcohol for a limited time
  • Consider featuring activities/games at the party, it encourages team-building and diverts attention away from cell-phones (also limits focus on drinking)
  • When alcohol is present, offer non-alcoholic beverages and always serve food
  • Stop serving alcohol toward the end of the evening and switch to coffee, tea, and soft drinks
  • Arrange for alternative transportation; encourage employees and guests to use it if they consume any alcohol

While these tips are not a guarantee against holiday party problems, they can be a good foundation for an effective defense against liability if problems should come to pass.

At WageWatch our compensation consultants are focused on your organization’s compensation needs and ready to help you ensure that your compensation programs are supporting your company’s business strategy and objectives. WageWatch also offers accurate, up-to-date benefit surveys, salary surveys and pay practices data that will allow you to stay current with the times. This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards. For more information on our services, including consulting, salary survey data, benefit survey data and market compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 28th, 2018 at 2:39 PM and is filed under Human Resource Policies & Practices. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.