How about a new look at staff party
THE silly season is almost here – again – and for many workers that means the work Christmas party is just around the corner.
Historically, for some businesses this was the one night of the year where employees let their hair down with their colleagues, bosses turned a blind eye, the drinks flowed thanks to the company’s tab and everyone celebrated the good, the bad and the ugly of the past 12 months.
Come Monday morning, the banter would be in overdrive with everyone gossiping about the shenanigans from the Christmas do. But times are a changing. New risks, including the fear of potential sexual harassment cases, means the boozy Christmas party may be boozy no longer.
Last year there was a Fair Work Commission decision that a worker had been unfairly sacked for sexual harassment and apparently telling his bosses where to go, after he was served unlimited drinks.
The commission found employers may not be in a position to insist on standards of conduct at functions if they served unlimited amounts of free alcohol.
Along with the threat of sexual harassment cases, there’s also staff safety which employers need to worry about.
This can mean organising free transport to and from the parties, sending out Christmas party guidelines to staff and making sure there is plenty of food on offer for the partygoers, all in the pursuit of ‘the responsible service of alcohol’.
But is it worth the hassle? Have we forgotten what the real point of the Christmas party? Isn’t it about saying thank you to staff and their families for all of their hard work throughout the year?
And while I am all for a celebration and clearly no teetotaller, surely we should be able to think of a more creative way to express our gratitude than through an alcohol-fuelled night?
One of the problems with a boozy party is that it’s not always inclusive and a big night out at a pub isn’t everyone’s idea of fun … especially if you don’t drink.
Some businesses also keep their parties strictly to their staff, which means hard working, supportive partners don’t get the thank you they deserve.
Some ideas to ponder could include taking the team down to the local yacht club and learning how to sail, or perhaps a family picnic in the park.
Just taking the time to thank each member of your staff individually for their hard work goes a long way.
* Leigh McClusky is the McCo Group managing director