Don’t Get Sued Because of Your Holiday Party: Tips for Employers to Ensure a Safe and Fun Holiday Season.

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The holidays are a great time for companies to celebrate their achievements and show appreciation for their employees. While holiday parties are a fantastic way for colleagues to come together, unwind and enjoy each other’s company, it is important for employers to be cognizant of the many risks they present, such as sexual harassment due to a more relaxed attitude, religious discrimination, and the many risks associated with offering alcohol at your party.

In order to minimize risk and keep your employees safe at your seasonal soiree, here are some suggestions for hosting a holiday party that is fun and safe for everyone!

1) Limit the alcohol
This one may sound obvious but many people don’t know what limiting alcohol looks like at a company party, especially when employees have come to expect they’ll be able to drink. While having no alcohol at your party can clearly do a lot to minimize risk, you don’t have to go that far if holiday “spirits” are something you want to offer. Here is what we recommend:

· Offer drink tickets

· Refrain from having an open bar

· Use a caterer (no supervisors serving)

· Offer many non-alcoholic options

· Offer some form of transportation to and from your party

· Stop serving long before the party ends

· Serve low-salt food to limit drinking

2) Be Inclusive

Getting everyone involved will help foster better relationships and company culture. Here’s what we suggest:

· Get input from employees ahead of time on what to do for your holiday party and get feedback after

· Know where pitfalls may lie

· Include spouses/family

· Prepare some family-friendly games to keep the party going!

3) Communicate Expectations

No business leader wants to come off as the holiday Scrooge but it’s very important, if you want to have a controlled event, to communicate ahead of time to your employees what is expected of them. Here’s what we suggest:

· Remind employees about conduct policies that apply to the party, including being respectful of other views, harassment, dress code, etc.

· Make sure management stays in control

· Make sure employees know attendance at your holiday party is not mandatory

4) Be Mindful of Other Holidays, Traditions and Cultures

· Know the calendar of when various holidays occur, as some of your employees may not celebrate Christmas

· Create/foster cultural awareness

· Be aware of décor

· Offer several food options

5) Take steps beforehand to ensure everyone gets home safely
Even if you aren’t offering alcohol, you can’t always control how much people end up drinking before, after (or even during) your holiday party. Some options include hiring a shuttle company to make sure your employees get home safely or try to arrange carpooling if someone in the group opts out of drinking

6) Consider alternatives to the traditional evening party
Another idea is to celebrate the holidays with a casual day party, by volunteering together for a charity or holding a family-friendly affair somewhere more low-key. These types of activities allow employees to get into the holiday spirit without the party atmosphere.

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