No matter the size of your company or businesses, you may or may not hold a Christmas event for the staff due to the COVID restrictions. You should be aware of the applicable Health Department restrictions in place for your state. However, if you do, these gatherings can still pose safety issues.
Planning an event, organised by the company, to get your staff together (with the allowable number of people) in or out of the workplace possess risks. The duty of care is placed upon the employers as any incident could still count as workplace related.
Christmas functions bring a lot of value to any workplace, and like so many aspects of work, they present safety risks that require management. An incident-free party would need a checklist in place to ensure no one gets hurt and staff still get to enjoy some down time. Below are some of the basic things to consider should your company organise said event/s:
- Roger that! – Communicate to your staff that the workplace Code of Conduct would still apply, and workers need to behaviour appropriately and any breaches of the Code of Conduct will be looked at seriously. Workers should also be aware of the start/finish times of the party and that any activities after these times are not an extension of the Christmas party.
- Ho, Ho, Hold it right there! – No party is fun without decorations and themes. Sprucing up the venue helps to promote the fun aspect of the event. Consider the safety though and it is better to keep Christmas decorations at head height. If you MUST put them higher – use a step ladder safely, do not use a chair or similar. If you are doing a Secret Santa, think about appropriate types of gifts – set guidelines about appropriate gifts to give your colleague.
- Location, location, location! – Sourcing a venue outside the workplace can be tricky. Considerations on the venue should include how safe it will be structurally. Are they any smoke alarms installed? Is there evacuation diagrams in the building that show people where to go in case they need to evacuate the building? Also, accessibility to public transport and if first aid amenities are available should be considered. The travel to and from the event can also affect how much or less your staff will consume in terms of alcoholic beverages. Make sure cabs or booking transport services like Uber can access the venue.
- Happy Hour! – Cater to your staff accordingly. Ask if anybody has food allergies or if they have any dietary requirements or restrictions. Have a variety of food, especially if your staff is culturally diverse and serve non-alcoholic beverages as well. Most importantly, ensure responsible service of alcohol. Use a voucher or ticketing system wherein there is a limit in alcohol consumed. Should entertainment be provided, ensure the content is appropriate and not offensive.
- Bring in the Big Guns! – Ensure there is at least managerial supervision at the function. These employees must remain sober and act as chaperone if need be. Make a reasonable effort to make sure no one makes a poor decision to go or drive home intoxicated. They should also be able to spot any inappropriate behaviour or action and address it accordingly. Sexual harassment and excessive alcohol consumption are very common traits that often escalate quickly during these events. Making sure there is “an adult in the situation” limits these incidents and complaints.
- But first, let me take a selfie! – Refresh the team on the company’s social media policy (if applicable). Make sure no one posts any inappropriate photos or spreads hate or discrimination towards anyone before, during and after the event.
- Oh Deer! – Know what to do in case something happens. Sometimes incidents do happen, and some of them are serious. Ensure every complaint is kept confidential. Prepare appropriate policies, investigate any incidents, and consider the disciplinary process that applies to the situation.
These are just some of the steps that employers can take to ensure the safety of their workers. If an employer plans ahead and takes these precautions, they can hopefully avoid any disaster and have a fun and safe work gathering. Actively working through this list and putting measures in place to prevent anything bad from happening is important. After all, we all want to spend our end-of-year holidays safe, happy, and healthy. Respecting your co-workers is the key. Being considerate and mindful of the people we work with would limit if not alleviate any complaints during these times.
We urge employers to balance the want to reward staff with the need to protect the business and the welfare of their employees should they consider planning these events.
If you need help with your workplace emergency procedures. The Workplace Emergency Management team can provide guidance to your team. Call us on 02-8883-1694.
Enjoy the holidays!