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The silly season is upon us. The time of year when most workplaces are preparing to hold a party to celebrate the year that was. It is also the time of year when the risk of a workplace incident is at its highest.
So what can you do as an employer to protect yourself ?
One answer could be to be a Fun Buster, cancel the party outright or ban alcohol. This would be sure to go down well with staff (not). And boost morale (not).
Alternatively you could take a minute to think about the potential risks and implement mitigation strategies to minimise the likelihood of those risks occurring and/or the impact if they were in fact to occur.
So here’s a list of key risks and mitigation strategies for the silly season.
1. Excessive consumption of alcohol
Given the consumption of alcohol can often lead to a loss of co-ordination, disorientation, aggression and a lack of inhibitions, it plays a major role in just about every risk factor at a work event.
Mitigation Strategy – Ensure responsible service of alcohol. Provide plenty of water, low and non-alcohol alternatives. Keep a close eye on staff that may be drinking too much and intervene where necessary. Put senior managers on notice prior to the function that they are to lead by example.
2. Failure to call party time
A lot of Christmas parties flow steadily on from the core function of blurring the lines between work time and personal time, especially if the boss or a senior manager puts their card over the bar and claims it as a company expense.
Mitigation Strategy – Set a function finish time and stick to it. Announce that the function is over and that the company sponsored part of the night is over. If people want to kick on make it clear that are doing it on their personal time.
3. Travelling home
Holding a work function in the evening and at an unfamiliar location increases the risks associated with staff getting home safely.
Mitigation Strategy – Think carefully about the location of the function and in particular how staff will get home. Avoid known hot spots and call time when public transport is available. More generous employers may consider covering cab fares home.
4. Bullying and violence
End of year functions can bring out the best and worst of people. Tensions that have been building during the year can spill out after a few drinks have been consumed and bullying and/or violence is always a possibility.
Mitigation Strategy – Keep a close eye on staff that may be drinking too much and be conscious of potential conflict situations. Intervene quickly to defuse conflict and prevent escalation.
5. Sexual harassment
The risk of an unwanted sexual advance is heightened at Christmas functions especially when alcohol is present and people start to engage with one another on a more social level.
Mitigation Strategy – Keep an eye out for staff who are flirting excessively and/or making unwanted sexual advances to others. Intervene where necessary and ensure the safety of the victim of the harassment.
6. The after party hangover and productivity
This is a risk that is not often discussed however it can have a significant impact on a business. Having a boozy Christmas party mid-week in the evening is a recipe for lost productivity.
Mitigation Strategy – No prizes for guessing this one. Avoid mid-week parties in the evening. If this is your only choice, start and finish the party early so as to limit the fall out.
7. Reputational damage
The last thing you want is your boozy Christmas party making the headlines for the wrong reasons, especially if yours is a well known local business and your party is held at a well known watering hole.
Mitigation Strategy – Add together the mitigation strategies 1 to 5 above.
Finally you might want to give some serious consideration to laying out the rules of engagement for the Christmas party up front and briefing your staff and managers before the festivities begin.
How can CompliSpace help?
CompliSpace’s comprehensive range of cost effective human resources policies, procedures, training and testing modules, ensure that managers and staff know what is expected of them and have key tools and information at their fingertips at all times. This enables a business to meet its workplace relations obligations while building a positive corporate culture, capturing knowledge and saving time. For more information, contact us on the details below:
P: +61 (2) 9299 6105 (Sydney) / +61 (8) 9288 1826 (Perth)
This blog is a guide to keep readers updated with the latest information. It is not intended as legal advice or as advice that should be relied on by readers. The information contained in this blog may have been updated since its posting, or it may not apply in all circumstances. If you require specific or legal advice, please contact us on (02) 9299 6105 and we will be happy to assist.
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