I was just looking at my calendar for the week and realized that there are five holiday events scheduled between now and Saturday.  That’s a great thing for an extrovert like me, but it can be a trying time for HR professionals.  Some of my most difficult calls from customers have come the day after a company holiday event.  The good news is that I’ve learned a few ways to keep these events fun, but still under control.  Some of my favorite ideas include:

  • Limit the alcohol.  Unfortunately bad things happen when people drink too much.  If you provide alcohol, I’m a fan of providing a couple of drink tickets “on the house” and then going for a cash bar after that.  I also recommend providing non-alcoholic options for free and reminding the bartenders at your venue that it’s OK to limit drinks are also great ways to rein in the party.
  • Have a back-up transportation plan.  Have a local cab company available in case you need to provide transportation.  Be sure to have a plan to pay for this service.
  • Enlist your management team to help.  While HR departments typically organize these events, they can’t be everywhere at once.  Ask your other leaders to actively monitor the party to keep it fun, but still in control.  Gently remind your leadership team that a sexual harassment complaint filed at the party is every bit as serious as one filed during the workweek.
  • Be inclusive of different religions and cultures.  Unless you are a religious institution, you probably employ people with a variety of religious and cultural beliefs.  This is a time to build bridges between employees, not to alienate them.
  • Build your team.  Provide activities that encourage people to interact with each other so that they can connect with people who they don’t normally get to see.
  • Keep it light.  This is not the venue for a 30 minute state of the business speech.
  • Have fun.  If it isn’t fun, it probably isn’t worth doing and probably won’t be well attended in the future.

For our HRM holiday party, we’ll be unveiling this year’s team homebrewed batch of “HRM Snowball Stout.”  The amount of drinking involved will definitely depend on our success as home brewers.

Best wishes for a safe and happy holiday season!

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