Your HR Tip on End-of-Year Functions

Like any good employer, you want to reward your hard-working staff with a day/night out of fun and laughter, and an opportunity to reflect on a good year. Like any function which start with good intentions, they can end up being an HR’s nightmare.

Here are some tips to avoid those awkward next day work situations:

  • Planning is the key, but not too much – You’re never going to please everyone and if you try, you’ll end up pleasing no one. Sometimes it’s easier to just make the plans and send the invites. You’re always going to have that person who will complain about everything. Remember, the aim of the function is to get everyone together to wind down and celebrate the year. Also, don’t make it a date you expect your staff to work the following day… that’s just mean and unrealistic. HR doesn’t want to be sending out “Please Explains” the next day as the chances are, they too will be calling in sick.
  • Be sensible with the location and activities. A booze up at Rainbow’s End with kids isn’t a great idea. No one wants to think about Health and Safety, but it’s a work function and all the same laws and responsibilities exist. Avoid fun sounding ideas like “drink a bottle of bourbon and race go-carts”. That’s not to say you can’t have fun – it’s about being sensible and, no; you don’t have to beat last year’s record for alcohol consumed.
  • Set some boundaries – It is almost inevitable that alcohol will be involved. Employers feel they want/have to reward their staff with open bars and unlimited bar tabs. It always sounds great before the party, but get a couple of gin and tonics down you and more often than not, HR will hate you for it the next morning. Work out how many people will be there and set a limit on the bar tab. 8-10 drinks per person is more than enough. 10-20 drinks per person and you’ll be having to organise mediation sessions between your staff the following day. Also you’re protecting that person every company has who has to see how many free beers/wines they can drink before passing out, hitting someone or hitting on someone.
  • We don’t all drink – This is something that is lost on some employers at a function. For whatever reason, people may choose not to consume alcohol. Make sure you have alternatives and no – a bottle of coke on the corner table isn’t enough.
  • Don’t dine and dash – As previously mentioned, it is your responsibility to ensure everyone is safe. That includes ensuring they have a way to get home safely. Simply saying “Right, times up, everyone home and see you tomorrow”, is only going to lead you into issues. Yes, everyone is an adult, but remember, you have provided the alcohol that they have consumed. Just go the extra step to pay for a van or provide access for people that can’t drive, to get home safely.
  • Have fun yourself, but not too much fun – Remember, you too have had an awesome year and should be able to join your staff to celebrate the occasion. There’s nothing wrong with undoing the top button, releasing the tie and letting your hair down a bit. But remember, there may be a time where undoing too many buttons can end up being the preferred conversation around the water cooler.

Are you seeing a running theme? Yes, alcohol at functions is the bane of all HR practitioners’ existence but follow a few simple steps and they’ll love you forever.

If you want more great HR advice, Contact Tech 5’s Employment Law Specialist, John Dustow, and he can help you with any HR issue that may arise out of your Christmas Function.

JOHN DUSTOW – E: johnd@tech5.co.nz | P: 027 855 9989