“Just calling to tell you I am very sorry about what I did last night at the Holiday Party. I didn’t mean to say those things in front of everyone, and then it was really an accident when I grabbed your butt and asked you to sit on Santa’s lap.”
Do NOT let this happen to you, and take steps to prevent it in your workforce at any company sponsored holiday event. Remember that when you sponsor and facilitate an event for your employees, you increase the risk of policy violations and establishing bad precedence for acceptable behavior. There is no separation of work and the event, and while everyone may smile and laugh, when they return home or back to work they remember what happened and develop opinions, biases, and perspectives.
You cannot rewind the event and wash away what people observed and what employees did. When you include alcohol, things get even more challenging when seeking to manage behaviors and mitigate risks to your business. Understand that you must take appropriate action steps if employees present concerns or complaints of events that happened at the party, and just like any other time of the year, management must act on these concerns and allegations to protect both the workforce and the business.
Avoid unintentional discrimination in who you invite to a company party, and make no assumptions on who might refuse the invitation leading to exclusion practices that also expose you to risk. While you may not be able to recognize every possible religious belief, do not establish practices that by design are discriminatory, such as a Christmas Party versus a Holiday Party. It only takes one individual to get offended by your actions or behaviors to create a very costly and time-consuming problem that if not handled properly can lead to disaster for your business. Take care in your planning and execution of company sponsored events, model the behavior you expect from the employees, and know when to confront and shut down behavior that is unacceptable. We wish you safe and productive holiday season!
Article written by Jennifer Cook, Director of Operations and Managing Member