We’ve all seen it. The holiday staff party rolls around and someone ends up humiliating themselves in some way or another. And then there’s that awkward moment when everyone returns to the salon and said employee must do the walk of shame into the head honcho’s office. Luckily, this all too common scenario is preventable when you set up a few ground rules and expectations prior to the event. Consider the following:
Spell it Out
Many salon owners assume proper party behavior is common sense to their team, but from the slew of holiday party fouls seen every year, this is clearly not the case. Ensure everyone is on the same page by putting the company code of conduct it in writing and send it out via company email and memos, posting it in common areas, sharing it during staff meetings prior to the event and having everyone sign off on it. Even before your holiday party rolls around, the general company code of conduct should describe misconduct both on and off the clock so this shouldn’t come as a shock.
Since alcohol impairs judgment, open bars or BYOB parties invite bad behavior. If you choose to serve alcohol, put a cap on the maximum number of drinks the company will pay for and issue drink tickets to employees and their guests. Also, a cash bar will always cut down on alcohol related embarrassments because it makes people think before they consume. “Dry” parties are becoming more and more common too. Remember, if you serve alcohol, provide lodging information or alternative transportation to protect both the company and the employee against DUI liability.
Don’t Fuel the Fire
You may want to reconsider having “I’m Too Sexy” or “The Thong Song” on your playlist if you are trying to set a professional atmosphere at your holiday party. Avoid songs that may be misconstrued as offensive, including those with overtly sexual lyrics or profanities, and stick with holiday music that keeps the atmosphere light and fun.
Dress the Part
Not everyone shares the same idea of what constitutes “classy” attire, so this is another one that should be spelled out in advance. Low cut or short dresses, sheer clothing or offensive t-shirts are just a few things that can quickly make an event uncomfortable.
Draw the Line
Every company should have a sexual harassment clause in their employee handbook and now is the time to remind your team of it. Improper sexual behavior can lead to a host of problems for both the company and the employees. Whether it’s being overly flirtatious or behavior that extends beyond the walls of the party, this type of employee behavior can at the very best lead to awkward and strained work relationships on Monday morning.
Make it Voluntary
Although you may think it’s fun for your team to spend time with you after work hours, your employees should never be required to do so. Make the holiday event voluntary. An employee may have personal reasons for not wanting to attend and should not be chastised for their decision.
After the Fact
Despite taking numerous precautions, someone may still manage to break the rules. Here’s how to deal with it:
Cut it Off
If an employee is too intoxicated, have the bar cut them off and help them to their room or cab. If an extreme behavior occurs that needs to be addressed immediately, only do so if you have not been drinking.
Just like sororities have their “sober sis”, I recommend each company designate a representative to stay sober to handle any problems that may arise. If a situation needs immediate attention, make sure this person is present and the encounter takes place away from other employees that are not involved.
Deal with It
Address less serious offenses the next work day. Sweeping bad behavior under the rug can serve as an invitation to other employees to engage in such bad behavior. A consequence should be decided prior to speaking with the employee based on company policy, whether it’s a verbal or written warning, suspension or termination. Be clear and precise on what behavior has caused concern and why. If alcohol was involved, an employee may not remember the action that landed them in hot water and it may even be necessary to prohibit this employee from consuming alcohol at future events. Most importantly, do not waiver on the consequences. Not enforcing it shows other employees that this behaviorwill be tolerated.
The holidays are a time for celebration and a great time to bond with your team so following a few simple suggestions will ensure the party stays bright and merry.
Jennette Pokorny, VP of Marketing & Communications for EverNext HR, the first company to offer small businesses a virtual human resources assistant who is supported by a state of the art, proprietary HR knowledge base use online system. Jennette has 12 years of corporate and nonprofit management experience and understands the challenges business owners face with their day-to-day operations, particularly with personnel. With more than a decade of experience providing solutions for small business, Jennette hopes to alleviate some of the human resources difficulties business owners lose sleep over.