The silly season has begun!! The sun is out, spirits are up, the beach is calling, Xmas shopping is underway and you and your team will be starting to look forward to the Xmas party, which is just around the corner.
But beware. While this may be the most exciting time of year for most of us, it can also be a time of increased risk for your business.
The combination of improved moods, relaxing of attitudes, casual summer dressing and, usually, an increase in alcohol intake provides the perfect environment for an increase of incidents of sexual harassment and the risk of workplace injuries.
Many employers do not realise the same responsibilities they have to their team in the workplace extends to any functions or gatherings they organise. Exactly the same as you would on a day to day basis, it is your duty to take reasonable steps to protect your staff at your Xmas party,
One of the most difficult return to work cases we ever were involved in involved a fall at a Xmas party caused by a tiddly person climbing on an unstable table. While, in hindsight, grateful it ended the strip tease she was about to do, the employee in question suffered long term injury repercussions from the accident, which was deemed a workplace accident and resulted from a failure of the business in question to take all practical steps to keep its employee safe.
So without being a killjoy, what should you do to keep your team safe at the Xmas party, and still ensure they have a good time?
Firstly, consider the risks involved. Make sure the venue has a sound H & S policy and they have identified and minimised all potential hazards. Secondly, consider how you will handle alcohol consumption, whether you need to have guidelines in place, or someone designated to keep an eye on staff who look like they might over indulge. Lastly, think about how your team will get home. Xmas is notoriously a bad time to get a taxi, and in any event some of the team may not be able to afford a taxi. Take those decisions out of their hands. Organise some taxi chits with a specific taxi Company. This will help minimise both your risk and the likelihood that inebriated staff members will drive away in their cars or make unsafe choices after the event.
The number of sexual harassment cases reported also jumps considerably during December. Together with a relaxing of dress code and a loosening of ties often comes a relaxing of behaviour standards. Compounded by alcohol, some team members may gain some extra confidence and fail to understand when their attentions are unwanted.
We suggest that before your party you ensure you have a sound policy in place to address this, and that your team know what steps to take and who to talk to if they are made to feel uncomfortable. Statistics show that nearly two thirds of woman have encountered some kind of sexual harassment in the workplace (and some men as well), and I’m sure, as the leader in your business, you will want to ensure the woman you employ are safe at all times.
With all these risks and pitfalls, we hope none of you are thinking “Is it worth it?” Of course it is! Xmas parties are fun, they are a great way to reward your staff for their hard work, boost morale and encourage team building.
So relax, kick up your heels, and lead the festivities from the front. Just make sure before you do you take a few simple precautions to ensure everyone enjoys the party and it ends well for all involved. If you feel the need to put in place appropriate policies to safeguard you and your team, give a us a quick call and we will give you a hand . Let’s make it a Merry Xmas for all!