Company party protocol: 8 tips for incident-free events

By Higginbotham on December 05 , 2018

GettyImages-Employee Christmas PartyWith the holiday season in full swing, it’s company party time and a great opportunity to celebrate with your team. As you plan this year’s event, be cognizant of what you hope to achieve and what you hope to avoid. We’ve all heard the stories about those who drink too much, say too much or do too much at company parties. Today, in the age of social media, employees can instantly share their colleagues’ bad judgement through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, placing your company’s reputation at risk. And then there are more serious exposures such as sexual harassment, food poisoning and driving under the influence. These risks can quickly turn your festive event into a costly regret. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way. Some careful planning can ensure that your company party goes off without a hitch – and without a hit to your bottom line. 

Eight tips for a successful, incident-free company party: 

  1. Put safety first. Whether your party is at the office or off site, check all indoor and outdoor areas for any slip and fall or other safety hazards such as obstructions, ice, snow or poor lighting. If there’s a chance of bad weather, keep sidewalks and parking lots clear and floors cleared of standing water. Plan for security needs, especially if your party is being held at a venue in an unfamiliar neighborhood.

  2. Be extra diligent about behavior. According to the 2018 Holiday Party Study by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, only 65 percent of companies plan to have a holiday party this year, the lowest percentage since 2009. One of the big reasons for the decline is the #MeToo movement and its focus on inappropriate behavior. Be extra vigilant about setting and enforcing ground rules about conduct.

  3. Expand your guest list. One way to encourage good behavior is to open up the party to spouses, kids or close friends. The atmosphere will be more family friendly and the party will likely end earlier.

  4. Serve liquor with caution. If you can’t go alcohol-free, limit your liability by not having an open bar and giving employees only two drink tickets with additional drinks for cash only. Also, hire a professional bartender, offer non-alcoholic drinks, stop service well before the party ends and arrange for transportation for anyone who may have had too much.

  5. Check your food, and keep it coming. Hire a reputable caterer who will be diligent about checking all food items. Foodborne illnesses are an all-too-common threat. Also, keep the food coming throughout the party to limit the effects of alcohol and keep people happy.

  6. Have an emergency plan in case someone is injured or needs medical attention. Know where the nearest hospital is and whether anyone on site can administer First Aid, perform CPR or use a defibrillator. To keep guests safe, hire an off-duty law enforcement officer.

  7. Investigate and follow up on incidents. If something goes wrong, start collecting and documenting the facts immediately while they’re fresh. As soon as possible, meet with any employees who displayed poor behavior and be clear about their unacceptable conduct.

  8. Ensure your vendors are covered. If you’re leasing or renting a venue, review your contract so you know your liabilities, and ask the venue to name your company as an additional insured. Request certificates of insurance from caterers, bartenders security personnel and other vendors too.

’Tis the season to be jolly, so make sure your company party stays that way by planning ahead. And for more tips on protecting your bottom line, contact the risk management professionals at Higginbotham today.

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