Posts Tagged ‘company party’

Tis the Season for an HR Reminder

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Now is the time of year when many employees are getting ready to party hard at the company holiday party.  Yet, company polices do not end when the party begins. Therefore, employers should remind employees about guidelines for appropriate behavior, and how company polices are still applicable during a holiday party (even if it is scheduled off-site and during non-business hours).  (more…)

Make Sure to Limit Legal Liability for Holiday Events

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

Holiday parties can be a great way to reward employees but can also create unintended human resource management issues. You don’t want the festivities to turn fractious so you may want to use these three simple steps to reduce legal liabilities:

1) Avoid any religious ties to holiday parties. A “Christmas Party” may appear insensitive to some employee; however, throwing a generic holiday party will ensure everyone feels comfortable.

2) Limit or don’t serve alcohol. Consider using a ticket system that limits the number of drinks and provide alternative transportation if you do serve alcohol.

3) Size the event to economic conditions. If you have just had a round of layoffs or haven’t provided raises in over a year, consider the message that an extravagant holiday party will send – a simple celebration may be a better option.

For more advice on holidays parties go to

Summer Office Party Primer

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

A summer party can be nice benefit for employees if done right.  Too often however, the party meant to be a morale booster and “thank you for a job well done” ends up creating tension and stress for all concerned, which is never a benefit.  Here are are some HR best practices to make your event a success.

1)  Don’t be fixated on having a party for the sake of having a party.  Each organization has its own style so make sure what you do is perceived as something fun not just another work obligation.  Too often executive management will dictates the type of the event without considering what the employees would really like.  If you don’t know what employees would prefer- take a simple survey of what type of party or alternative event would be most popular.   Some alternatives including offering everyone 2-4 extra hours of paid time off, working together to complete a project for a local charity or a gift certificate to a summer event they can use with their significant others.  Whatever you do should be perceived as a benefit by the majority of the employees.

2) Get out of the the office!  If you are having a party have it at offsite.  The local park is always a good option but make sure you reserve space with your local parks and rec department.

3) Friday afternoon is the ideal time for a summer office party if you can afford to close your office for the afternoon. Employees are not always thrilled to give up weekend time for work events- and make no mistake that even if you call this a party it is a work event.

4) Plan activities to keep people mixing and moving.  If you are inviting families this is even more important.  Set up volleyball net or have a water balloon toss, consider a scavenger hunt.  Again, make sure that the employees are doing something they enjoy.  Don’t force the issue- if somebody just wants to sit and observe the fun with a cold drink in hand- let them.

5) Carefully consider the question of should you serve alcohol.  For more information on the legal liability of alcohol at a company party check out this earlier post.

Have fun!

Join the conversation: Will you be having a summer office party or an alternative event?

Lampshades and lawsuits- how to limit your libility for holiday events

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

You’ve decided to hold the annual holiday party. It’s a great way to boost employee moral but be careful, the last thing you want to happen at the party is the quiet employee, never a problem before- dancing on the table with a lampshade on their head. Despite the cheery intent of the holiday party serious consequences can result, for which you, the employer, may be held responsible. For example, if one of your employees drinks too much at such an event, then gets in a car and injures himself or another person, are you liable for the injury? Probably, under most states host liability laws, and you would certainly be looking at a workers’ compensation claim. What about the employee who ties one on and then decides to declare their affections to another employee- that sounds like a sexual harassment lawsuit in the making. So how can employers limit liability and still provide a festive event?

Limit or don’t serve alcohol at all. If no behavior altering substances are available to your employees, or if you limit their access to it, chances are employees will be calmer and more in control of their actions. In addition to averting injuries, limiting alcohol consumption could prevent other types of actionable activities, such as property damage and sexual harassment incidents.

If you are going to serve alcohol, check your insurance policy. A key step in your party planning should be reviewing your business insurance policy. If you’re going to be serving alcohol, the Independent Insurance Agents of America, Inc. (IIAA), based in Alexandria, Virginia, suggests checking your comprehensive general liability policy to be certain that it covers third-party liquor liability.

Don’t think a cash bar solves your liability problem. While having a cash bar instead of an open bar may limit drink consumption, be careful. Having your employees and guests pay for the alcohol they consume on your property does not automatically limit your liability if an alcohol related accident should occur. According to the IIAA, if you’re charging for alcohol, you’ll need a liquor license and other liability protections.

Plan an off-premises party so if you decide to serve alcohol at your party, don’t hold the party in your office. Have the party off premises and make sure the servers have a liquor license. That way you transfer the obligation to the provider of the liquor. Plan a non-traditional get-together such as a group outing to a basketball or football game, and the focus will not be on drinking, but on the g event. Other alternative party ideas from the U.S. Department of Labor include an amusement park outing, or a volunteer activity, such as a 10K run or bake sale, with proceeds going to a local charity. Hold a family-friendly party and take the focus off the typical “sit and drink” party by inviting your employees’ spouses and children to the gathering. Plan activities for the children; perhaps hire a musician or storyteller. A family friendly party also re-inforces the company committment to work/life balance.

Be clear with your employees before the festivities begin.
Make sure that your employees know your policy on substance abuse and that this policy covers any work situation, including an office party, suggests the U.S. Department of Labor. Post the policy in your employee handbook and on office bulletin boards, and send it out by email as a reminder before the party. HotlinkHR makes it easy to post policies and handbooks online and collect employee signatures.

Provide transportation and keep your employees from getting behind the wheel of a car if they’ve been drinking by providing alternative transportation, both to and from the party.

So will your holiday event be alcohol free or at a non traditional venue this year? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Are employers acting like the Grinch this season?

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

Are holiday perks such as parties, bonuses and gifts  a thing of the grinch_santapast with employers imitating the Grinch? No- according to several recent surveys of employers. Even in these tough times employers are rewarding employees during the holidays, but with layoffs, furloughs and wage freezes common most companies have scaled back, way back. This is according to a recent CareerBuilder survey conducted among more than 3,000 hiring managers and HR professionals. In fact, nearly 3 out of 10 employers will be giving out bonuses, 60% will provide a holiday party and 29% will hand out gifts as reported by Challenger, Gray and Christmas. Among small businesses 30% aren’t planning any holiday activity for employees, and more than half won’t give gifts to customers this year, according to an American Express Open survey of more than 500 business owners.

A few ideas to make the holiday merry, with or without that bonus or big holiday event:

Volunteer as a group: While the companys may not have the budgets to throw a holiday party this year or even if your company does- have your co-workers volunteer together at a local charity. Volunteering with your team or company still allows you to be out of the office in a social setting while giving back to your local community and maintaining your holiday spirit.

Don’t be a Grinch: So what if the company holiday party is a thing of the past? Organize an office potluck or ask the boss for an extra hour at lunch for everyone to eat together.  Without the pressure of a big event you may find this becomes the favorite holiday office tradition.

Offer extra time off: Many employees would appreciate a few extra hours off just as much or maybe even more than holiday party. Offering employees a few extra hours of time off can go a long way to improve morale.

Share in comments -what is your company doing this year, and how does it compare to last year?

Tomorrow I’ll talk about HR best practices for those companies still planning on having the traditional holiday party and discuss the pros and cons of serving alcohol at a company sponsored event.