One of the things I disliked most about working in Human Resources was my role as social director. For some reason, managers thought HR should plan any parties that the organization wanted to hold—recognition events, anniversary and retirement celebrations, and, of course, the annual holiday party.
It’s probably too late for this year, but if you haven’t already arranged your company’s holiday party, here are some suggestions:
- Be sure you follow all applicable wage and hour laws. If employees are required to attend, then they must be paid. If the event is after-hours and voluntary, then be sure no one is penalized or downgraded for not attending. Voluntary must be truly voluntary. And remember that this month is a very busy time for many families.
- Watch the singing, praying, and any other activities that might give a religious bent to the celebration. I remember a party where everyone sang traditionally Christian Christmas carols. Some people loved it, but non-Christians were made to feel very uncomfortable.
- Remember that alcohol is not a good mixer with work. Unless your event is at the end of the work day, off company premises, AND you are willing to monitor your employees’ behavior and arrange for rides home for those who imbibe too much, you shouldn’t serve alcohol. Sorry, folks, but it’s not worth the risk of bad behavior at and after the event.
- Avoid dancing and mistletoe. See above regarding alcohol. Combining alcohol with dancing and/or mistletoe is just asking for trouble. Your company’s anti-harassment policy remains in full force through the party, whether it is on premises or off.
You might be better off waiting until after the Christmas spirit has worn off, and hold an event to celebrate your company’s year-end results in January.
For more on holiday parties, see
And for an old joke describing the degeneration of one HR manager’s attempt to throw a good holiday party, click here.
When have you seen problems related to a company holiday party?