What hap­pens at a Party, does not nec­es­sar­ily stay at The Party

The HR Digest - - Cover Story -

Of­fice Christ­mas Party can be a great op­por­tu­nity to get to­gether in a re­laxed set­ting to cel­e­brate the hol­i­days. Or, it can be a mem­o­rable rea­son for all the wrong rea­sons.

“Get­ting on top of the boss’s desk and danc­ing

top­less is a bad idea,” Emily War­ren, chief ex­ec­u­tive of re­cruit­ment con­sult­ing firm said in an in­ter­view. “Mak­ing a pass at the boss’s spouse is not a great idea, ei­ther. Th­ese sort of things hap­pen all the time and are a big cause of giv­ing the HR headaches.”

“Of all my years in HR, 90 per­cent of the par­ties go wrong,” she said, adding, “peo­ple re­gret be­hav­ing sala­cious the next day.”

In or­der to pre­vent mis­be­hav­ior that can lead to law­suits, sex­ual ha­rass­ment al­le­ga­tions and cringe­wor­thy me­mories, here’s what you can do:

Car­ton Treat­ment Cen­ters found that 85 per­cent of the 2,000 adults sur­veyed last year said they be­lieved it was ap­pro­pri­ate to drink at a hol­i­day party at work. Only 11 per­cent re­ported ex­pe­ri­enc­ing neg­a­tive so­cial ef­fects from drink­ing, such as hav­ing their be­hav­ior hurt oth­ers at work.

“Drink­ing ex­ces­sively is one of the quick­est ways to slide down the ca­reer lad­der,” Helen Lin­de­mann, an HR at a tech firm in Sil­i­con Val­ley.

The HR should try to bal­ance be­tween treat­ing em­ploy­ees as adults and pre­vent po­ten­tially rogue be­hav­ior. One needs to en­sure that ev­ery­one drinks in mod­er­a­tion.

Lin­de­mann re­called one em­ployee who overindulged in al­co­hol and loudly flirted with the boss ask­ing if she could re­ceive a raise and bonus for her out­stand­ing per­for­mance re­view. While the em­ployee did re­ceive a bonus and a raise, she wasn’t re­spected by any­body

at work, in­clud­ing her im­me­di­ate boss and the col­leagues.

At­ten­dees should only be al­lowed a lim­ited num­ber of drinks. It’s a good idea to of­fer vouch­ers for cab rides. One should also con­sider serv­ing a light-al­co­hol punch if they know em­ploy­ees are sure to in­dulge ex­ces­sively in al­co­hol.

Ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey by the So­ci­ety for Hu­man Re­source Man­age­ment, 59 per­cent of hu­man re­source pro­fes­sional said their com­pa­nies planned to serve al­co­hol dur­ing an of­fice Christ­mas party.

The HR should email ex­pec­ta­tions for ap­pro­pri­ate con­duct when send­ing out e-in­vites to the em­ploy­ees. “Just be­cause it’s be­ing held in the of­fice set­ting, it does not trans­late for an in­vi­ta­tion to be­have rogue,” says Lin­de­mann.

Even if you’re a mom-and-pop shop, you should con­sider set­ting ex­pec­ta­tions for ap­pro­pri­ate con­duct dur­ing the of­fice Christ­mas party. When you don’t say any­thing, em­ploy­ees can take it for granted and can go crazy.

Re­mem­ber, what hap­pens at the party does not nec­es­sar­ily stay at the party. Thanks to the pro­lif­er­a­tion of smart­phones and so­cial me­dia apps, there are a hun­dred more ways to doc­u­ment rogue con­duct in the of­fice and share it with your fol­low­ers. This can not only do per­ma­nent dam­age to one’s ca­reer but also get them fired from the com­pany.

Ar­rive early. Net­work. Take the of­fice Christ­mas party as a golden op­por­tu­nity to talk to se­nior ex­ec­u­tives. Com­pany par­ties are a great place to in­tro­duce your­self to ex­ec­u­tives who will in­flu­ence your ca­reer and work life. You can­not just barge into your boss’s boss’s cabin, but at a party it’s a very easy thing to do.

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