As the holiday season quickly approaches, many businesses are starting to plan their holiday social events. Many employers use the holidays as a time to reward their employees, to socialize and to provide a positive experience for everyone. The majority of companies serve alcohol at holiday parties and events. Individuals who drink too much during a company event can do things to jeopardize their health, safety and their careers. When people drink, their inhibitions decrease and they may do and say things they would never dream of during a regular work day when not under the influence of alcohol. Employers should also consider that not everyone drinks; some choose not to drink, some are under age,and others may be in recovery from addictions and be particularly vulnerable to temptation during the holidays. Employers should be aware of the issues that can arise as a result of office parties where alcohol is served.
The U.S Department of Labor Working Partners for an Alcohol and Drug Free Workplace offers the following tips to minimize the negative consequences of alcohol consumption at your holiday party.
1. Be honest with employees. Make sure employees know your workplace substance abuse policy and that the policy addresses the use of alcoholic beverages in any work related function.
2. Post the policy. Use every communication vehicle to be sure your employees know the policy. Before an office party, use break room posters, payroll stuffers and email to communicate your policy and concerns.
3. Reinvent the office party concept. Try something like an indoor carnival, volunteer opportunity or group outing to a sporting event or amusement park.
4. Make sure employees know when to say “when”. If you do serve alcohol, make sure all employee know they are welcome to attend and have a good time but that they are expected to behave responsibly.
5. Make it the office party of choice. Be sure there are plenty of non-alcoholic beverages.
6. Eat.. and be merry! Avoid serving lots of salty, greasy or sweet food, which tend to make people thirsty. Serve foods rich in starch and protein- that stay in the stomach longer and slow down the absorption of alcohol in the bloodstream.
7. Designate party managers. Remind managers that even at the office party, they may need to implement the company’s alcohol and substance abuse policy.
8. Arrange alternative transportation. Anticipate that some partygoers may drink too much to drive safely. Make special transportation arrangements in advance (ie shuttles or taxis to public transportation). Encourage all employees to make use of this service.
9. Serve none for the road. Stop serving alcohol before the party officially ends. Employers should review their policies regarding alcohol consumption and enforce these policies at all company celebrations.