In the Zone Of­fice par­ties

Für die einen sind sie das High­light des Jahres, an­dere ver­suchen sie möglichst zu mei­den. Die Rede ist von Betrieb­s­festen. Aber auch wer mit Kol­le­gen und Vorge­set­zten gerne feiern möchte, darf dabei nicht alle Regeln außer Acht lassen. Er­fahren Sie von J

Business Spotlight - - CONTENTS -

Dressed in a brown robe, a hooded monk is en­ter­tain­ing a group of su­per­heroes — Su­per­man and Won­der Wo­man among them — with ban­ter and jokes. Disco lights flash, and the room is filled with the sound of the lat­est hits. It’s 1983 and a high-street bank’s Christ­mas party — a fancy-dress disco at the main branch in the cen­tre of town. The monk and su­per­heroes are young bank work­ers en­joy­ing an an­nual get-to­gether that has a rep­u­ta­tion for some­times get­ting out of con­trol.

By the end of the evening, the monk, Adrian, has flirted with his deputy man­ager, started a drink­ing com­pe­ti­tion with col­leagues and ended up vom­it­ing on the dance floor. At work the next day, he gets plenty of know­ing looks and com­ments about his “un­holy” be­hav­iour. To­day, 35 years later, Adrian is a suc­cess­ful bank ex­ec­u­tive, but he still hears jokes about that party and the “bad monk”. It’s a sim­ple truth that one act of bad be­hav­iour can in­flu­ence rep­u­ta­tions for years to come. Es­pe­cially if that be­hav­iour is at the of­fice party.

Bad be­hav­iour can, of course, also mean dis­ci­plinary ac­tion, even dis­missal. Gross mis­con­duct could in­clude ha­rass­ment, vi­o­lence, dis­crim­i­na­tion, drug-tak­ing and mis­us­ing so­cial me­dia. If it seems tempt­ing to post a com­pro­mis­ing party pho­to­graph on­line, think again. “A cel­e­bra­tion is not a rea­son to leave eth­i­cal values in the cloak­room,” says the In­sti­tute of Busi­ness Ethics. They ad­vise that an of­fice party, re­gard­less of time and lo­ca­tion, is an ex­ten­sion of the work­place, and em­ploy­ees and em­ploy­ers have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to be­have

prop­erly and can be held li­able for what hap­pens there.

Around 68 per cent of UK firms plan to have Christ­mas par­ties, at an av­er­age cost of around €48 per head. That’s a sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment, al­though most so­cial func­tions are tax-ex­empt. Not ev­ery­one, of course, wants to be there. Statis­tics sug­gest that 17 per cent of em­ploy­ees would rather stay at home. At the other end of the spec­trum, The In­de­pen­dent re­ports that peo­ple in IT and HR are the em­ploy­ees most likely to kiss or have sex with a col­league, or to get ex­tremely drunk, at the Christ­mas party. In the UK, al­co­hol con­sump­tion rises by 41 per cent in De­cem­ber, much of it as­so­ci­ated with par­ties. It rep­re­sents a real dan­ger to job prospects, ac­cord­ing to Corinne Mills, manag­ing direc­tor of Per­sonal Ca­reer Man­age­ment. “My num­ber one tip is to watch the al­co­hol,” Mills told The Tele­graph. “It’s the big­gest mis­take and usu­ally the cause of all the other things that go wrong.”

The In­sti­tute of Busi­ness Ethics sug­gests plac­ing lim­its on free bars at work par­ties, ar­rang­ing safe trans­port home and ap­point­ing a su­per­vis­ing man­ager to re­main al­co­hol-free for the night. The HR web­site Per­son­nel­to­ also ad­vises man­agers to read their com­pany pol­icy care­fully and to make a state­ment telling all em­ploy­ees what is ex­pected of them and set­ting clear bound­aries for be­hav­iour.

And be­fore par­ty­go­ers put on their jeans and T-shirts, Busi­nessin­ rec­om­mends that ev­ery­one check the dress code. It sug­gests us­ing par­ties and events to meet new peo­ple and to build rap­port; not to go on an empty stom­ach; to be mind­ful of lim­its; never to ex­plic­itly talk busi­ness, and not to miss work the next day!

While it’s ob­vi­ously a good idea to avoid ask­ing the boss for a pay rise, it’s also im­por­tant to try to en­joy the party. CBA Events sug­gests that a wow fac­tor is needed. “Re­ward­ing staff with an un­for­get­table evening can be well worth the in­vest­ment to boost morale and give them an in­cen­tive to keep up their great work at your com­pany,” the UK events ex­perts say.

They sug­gest be­ing cre­ative with party ideas: us­ing an orig­i­nal lo­ca­tion such as a boat, cas­tle or cir­cus, and hav­ing themes such as glam­our, mas­quer­ade or car­ni­val.

“It’s great to see so many or­ga­ni­za­tions find­ing ways to re­ward and rec­og­nize their em­ploy­ees in some way for the fes­tive sea­son,” says De­bra Corey, direc­tor at the em­ployee en­gage­ment firm Re­ward Gate­way.

Corey ex­plains that so­cial­iz­ing with and thank­ing col­leagues isn’t just for Christ­mas. “A strong re­ward and recog­ni­tion strat­egy is … a must for busi­nesses who want to at­tract, en­gage and re­tain the very best,” she says. “A Christ­mas party is the cherry on top, rather than the foun­da­tion of the strat­egy.”

“Al­co­hol is usu­ally the cause of all the other things that go wrong”

Have a good time: but don’t put your job at risk

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