How about a new look at staff party

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - Leigh McClusky

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

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