Tis the Season for Fun But be Careful: The No-Regrets Guide to Partying With Your Co-workers

With the Christmas, Hanukkah, Zwanza and New Year’s season nearly upon us, partying will be in high gear at many workplaces as employees let down the hair and (hopefully) have many successes to celebrate. Here’s advice from our resident columnist Robin Paggi on handling the at-work party scene so you’ll have no regrets the next day. Her advice is also good for year-round celebrations such as company picnics.

The No-Regrets Guide to Partying With Your Co-workers

After a couple of years of belt-tightening, company parties have returned in many organizations. Indeed, several recent surveys of HR professionals have demonstrated that your company will most likely have some kind of gathering sometime this year. If so, here are a few tips on how to party with your co-workers, be it at a company picnic or a holiday event, without regretting it the next day.

If you are an employer throwing the shindig, you should:

Have the event at a third-party location that has its own liquor license and crew. Parties at your workplace (or at your home) will more than likely make you the responsible party if there is any type of incident. Also, it’s best not to make employees work at the party (set-up, clean-up, etc.) because, if they are hourly employees, you’ll need to pay them for their time (including over-time pay if appropriate).

Emphasize that attendance is voluntary. If the party is mandatory, you could be liable for wages, third-party claims, and workers’ compensation. If employees are even “expected” to attend, it will likely be deemed a mandatory function. Pay attention to employee communications (e.g. “We expect to see everyone at the company picnic on Saturday”) and eliminate the expectation of compensation for attendance.

Allow employees to bring guests, as their presence usually encourages employees to be on their best behavior. However, because employees often act differently out of the traditional work environment, it’s a good idea to clearly communicate expectations of behavior and attire for them as well as their guests.

Ensure that plenty of non-alcoholic beverages are available. Additionally, have guests buy their own drinks from paid bartenders who can monitor their consumption (and refuse to serve them if they’re underage or have had too much to drink). Consider having only beer and wine available and order plenty of food to help slow the absorption of alcohol.

Promptly deal with inappropriate behavior, such as excessive drinking, insubordination, employee disagreements, inappropriate discussions, and reports of unwanted sexual advances.

If you are an employee attending the shindig, you should:

Go. Blowing off a company event makes you look bad (think about how you feel when people don’t show up to your party).

Mingle. Don’t just hang out with co-workers that you know. Instead, use the company event as an opportunity to network and build professional connections.

Engage in small talk. You definitely don’t want to talk shop at a company party, including gossiping about co-workers. Stay away from talking about sex, politics, and religion as well.

Dress and act appropriately. Remember that company parties are work events. The dress with the plunging neckline probably is not the best wardrobe choice and dirty dancing is probably not in your best interest.

Refrain from getting plowed. Have a good time, but remain cognizant of the fact that inappropriate behavior, whether fueled by alcohol or not, can and probably will be used against you when the party is over.

Act like you’re having fun. The company get-together is not the time to be a party-pooper. Regardless of whether you’re in a spat with your spouse, you’re upset because you didn’t get that promotion you were vying for, or the party is just plain boring, look like you’re having a good time.

Say thanks. Few people thank the boss for throwing the party. Doing so will let your employer know that you have manners.

Ask before posting pictures from the party on-line. It’s common knowledge that what is posted on social networking sites can come back to bite people, so always ask first.

All of this might sound like it takes all of the fun out of the event; however, following these guidelines can help employers and employees be regret-free when the party is over and everyone goes back to work.

Robin Paggi is the Training Coordinator at Worklogic HR.

Robin last wrote for us about preventing workplace bullying.



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