New Rules Under the Mistletoe
With the calendar year-end fast approaching and social distancing rules relaxed if not outright abolished, now is the time that many companies consider plans for employee holiday parties. With all things these days, there are the obligatory do’s and don’ts that apply to year-end holiday festivities. The purpose of setting rules is to prevent embarrassing or dangerous situations and ensure that attendees have a safe and pleasant time at the annual company holiday party.
Let’s start with what employers should consider doing to make their employees feel appreciated while discussing those items that employers should avoid as a matter of etiquette or law.
- Send Holiday Party Invitations
- Nothing makes your employees feel appreciated more than receiving a formal invitation in the mail. If snail mail is too cumbersome, at least send an email addressed to your employee individually by name. Make it personal but use the invitation to convey important information concerning dress code, guest allowances and party code of conduct.
- Choose a Time When All Employees Can Attend
- The holidays are a busy time for all, so choosing a date and time when your employees can attend with minimal conflict with other holiday events and hassle to hire babysitters and make other accommodations is greatly appreciated. Under no circumstances make the year-end fete obligatory. Genuinely encourage your employees to attend but ask for an RSVP to estimate headcount. If the year end is just too hectic, consider an early January party when the calendar is generally more flexible.
- Set Holiday Party Guidelines
- A company holiday party provides an opportunity to relax and enjoy a festive atmosphere, but these occasions are still official events and a certain baseline of professional behavior is expected from all. Set clear guidelines for your employees so that everyone enjoys her and his time while at the same time acting professionally while representing the company.
- Limit the Alcohol and Provide After-Party Rides Home
- While an open bar sounds like a great idea and no one would seriously consider charging for food and drinks at an end-of-year event, there should be practical limits. Perhaps consider a beer, wine and champagne bar only; no liquor. Also plan ahead that your employees can book a ride home via Uber or Lyft. At company expense, of course.
- Model Good Behavior as the Boss
- Managers set the standard for employee behavior both in the office and away from the office. For that reason, it is critical that the boss behaves in a professional manner. Simple rule: Don’t do anything at the punch bowl or on the dance floor that you wouldn’t do in the office kitchen or conference room.
- Attend the Party and Join in the Festivities
- We’ve all seen the situation where the boss invites staff and employees but fails to attend himself. Being the boss means that you get to attend the office holiday party and be a participant in all the good clean fun.
- Thank Staff and Guests Sincerely
- Likewise, the annual office holiday party serves as a great opportunity to thank your employees for everything they’ve done to contribute to the success of the organization. Raise a glass of holiday cheer in honor of those that make you and your organization a paragon of success. But limit yourself to one drink and a short speech. A very short speech.