Lawyer makes suggestions for keeping holiday work parties safe and enjoyable

Whether it’s to celebrate the holidays or reward employees for a year of hard work, it’s best to establish guidelines to make sure everyone remains safe, happy and employed. Kellen Myers, an attorney at Nemeth Law, offers the following guidelines:

• Smile for the camera – but watch those social media  posts! Myers says it can be a great idea to share quotes and photos from a work party, but remind staff in advance  that the company’s social media policy still applies at the event.

“Inappropriate conversation or photos that end up on social media and reflect poorly on the organization or another staff member should be forbidden and may also be grounds for firing, especially if a particularly egregious post, video or photo goes viral. Employers don’t want the holiday party to be a breeding ground for social media feuds that spill over into the workplace long after the party has ended,” Myers said.

• For crowd control and better monitoring of activities, limit parties to employees rather than adding clients and vendors.

“That being said, it can be fun to include spouses, significant others and even children of employees to a holiday party; their presence may help avoid inappropriate behavior and over-indulging, too,” Myers said. “If alcohol is served, though, be sure to implement and follow a ‘We ID’ policy.

• Invite all employees to the party, but make it clear attendance is voluntary. Not everyone celebrates the holidays, and employees should not feel pressured to attend a party that might offend religious beliefs.
 • Senior management and HR representatives should attend the holiday party.

 “This is not necessarily a social time for company executives. They need to be conspicuously visible and exhibit model behavior,” Myers said.

• Don’t drink and drive should be the mantra. If possible, arrange for transportation in advance for employees who may not be able to drive. Shuttles and car services are an excellent option, but can be costly.
Consider alternatives, including offering to reimburse employees for cab fares or ride-hailing services.

Remind employees that while the holiday party is meant to celebrate their contributions  the event is still a business function and inappropriate behavior may result in discipline.

 No party planned this year? It’s not too late to host a breakfast/lunch event on-site and close the office early.

“With these types of informal gatherings, employees appreciate getting to leave earlier in the day and the timing eliminates problems that can arise with evening parties where alcohol is served.”

Is it possible to follow all these rules and guidelines and still have fun? Myers says yes.

 “Our firm’s holiday gathering was a bowling event in Detroit in early December and it was a blast,” Myers said. “Last I checked, we were all still on speaking terms with each other and any photos that went viral were on the Nemeth Law social media channels – meaning they were approved for posting by the boss,” Myers said.

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