Forced fun or beloved corporate tradition? The holiday party is back to normal for 2023
Media Contact: Barbara Fornasiero; EAFocus Communications; 248.260.8466; firstname.lastname@example.org
Detroit – November 29, 2023 – Cannabis bars, vegan food options, axe-throwing, escape rooms and other team-building excursions…it seems nothing is new this year in holiday parties - except affirmation that the holiday party is one staple of the workplace that even a pandemic couldn’t permanently cancel. What else hasn’t changed? The good manners, good policies, and consistently applied practices that keep any corporate social gathering in check. Deborah Brouwer, managing partner of management side labor and employment law firm Nemeth Bonnette Brouwer, has advised clients on holiday gatherings for years. She offers a refresher course to employers with the following 10 corporate holiday party tips.
- Senior management and HR representatives from the organization should attend the party, follow all company policies and set an example for the organization in terms of appropriate behavior.
- Given their celebratory and collegial nature, holiday parties can mean hugs, but don’t let things get out of hand. The company’s sexual harassment policy should be reviewed prior to the party—and enforced on the spot if questionable behavior (e.g., excessive hugging and touching) becomes evident.
- Without being Scrooge-like, remind employees that while the holiday party is meant to celebrate the season and their contributions from the past year, the event is still a business function and inappropriate behavior may result in discipline, including termination.
- Smile for the camera but be alert to questionable party pictures, videos and social media posts. Remind staff in advance that the company’s social media policy applies at the event, and that actions will be taken against those who don’t follow the spirit of the policy. This may also be a good time to review company social media policies and ensure that photo releases have been signed by staff and are still current.
- If alcohol is served and employees (including interns) under the age of 21 will be present, be sure to implement and follow a “We ID” policy.
- Clarify how legal marijuana use will be handled if not implementing a complete ban on its use. While employees may think it’s ok to use before or during the holiday event because it is ‘off hours,’ they are mistaken; employers have the right to enforce workplace policies on marijuana even when such use is outside the actual workplace.
- For crowd control and better monitoring of party activities, consider limiting parties to employees rather than adding clients and vendors. Also, for riskier activities like axe throwing or rock climbing, understand there may be employer liability, regardless of waivers.
- Consider hosting celebratory events at a breakfast or lunch gathering – or a Monday or Tuesday evening rather than a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night.
- Invite all employees to the party but make it clear that attendance is voluntary. Not everyone celebrates the holidays and employees should not feel pressured to attend.
- “Don’t drink (or vape/smoke weed) and drive” should be the mantra. If possible, arrange for transportation in advance for employees who may not be able to drive. Shuttles and car services are an excellent option but can be costly. Consider alternatives, including offering to reimburse employees for ride-hailing services or cab fares.
“Love them or hate them, holiday parties appear to be here for the long haul,” Brouwer said. “Following these tips might not guarantee a good time will be had by all – but it should help team members at every level hold onto their jobs in the new year.”
About Nemeth Bonnette Brouwer PC
Celebrating more than 30 years, Nemeth Bonnette Brouwer specializes in employment litigation, traditional labor law, workplace investigations, and management consultation and training for private and public sector employers. The firm also provides arbitration and mediation services. Woman-owned and led since its founding, Nemeth Bonnette Brouwer exclusively represents management in the prevention, resolution and litigation of labor and employment disputes.