I hate to tell you all this, but it’s 8 weeks til Christmas. The decorations are out at the shops, people are booking their summer holidays and plans for end of year work functions are being made.
Unfortunately, it’s not called the “silly season” for no reason. Every year we hear stories of end of year celebrations gone wrong and the consequences not only for individuals but for organisations can be quite severe.
Common risks at work functions include injury, sexual harassment and general inappropriate behaviour. This is particularly exacerbated due to the provision of alcohol and a more relaxed and fun environment. In 2015 the Fair Work Commission found an employer partly to blame for an employee’s inappropriate behaviour after unlimited free alcohol was served at a work function. His subsequent termination due to that behaviour was also found to be unfair.
So what can you do to ensure that your end of year celebrations are full of fun and without negative consequences (except perhaps lack of sleep the next day)?
1. Preparation is key – issue a notice (in writing – letter or email) to all staff outlining the standard of conduct you expect from all attendees.
2. Ensure that your staff are aware that your WHS policies apply at the function just as they do in the workplace (and that they know what those policies are!).
3. Ensure that alcohol provision and consumption is monitored. The best way to do this is to hold your event in a licenced venue where the staff will practice the responsible service of alcohol. If you are hosting the event yourself, nominate a responsible staff member or manager to monitor alcohol distribution and consumption.
4. Nominate contact persons who will be available on the night to help any staff members should an issue arise.
5. Ensure staff know how to get home safely
Most importantly though, let your employees know that the party is a fun night for everyone! The only bad thing to happen at a great work party should be everyone seeing someone’s bad dancing.
If you need assistance with ensuring you have the right policies and procedures in place to look after your employees, please contact Katrina on firstname.lastname@example.org or check out our Facebook page for our special packages of HR documents to minimise your risk. Right now we are offering a special package that covers the above to ensure your work function is a safe one.
About the author:
Katrina Haynes is the founder and Director of K Haynes HR – HR Matters. Katrina works with SME’s to align their people and activity to their strategy to improve productivity, performance and profitability. Providing outsourced HR and workplace improvement services, Katrina specialises in Human Resources strategy, benchmarking, governance & compliance, recognition & reward, recruitment and DiSC personality profiling. Coaching business owners, Managers and HR teams, Katrina tailors solutions to assist individuals and organisations reach their full potential. Katrina provides practical people solutions to minimise risk and maximise performance.