A work party this Christmas might seem like the perfect time to bring your team together after home working has kept many of us apart since March 2020. However, as appealing as it seems to encourage some team bonding during down-time, we’re here to offer some cautionary words!

We hate to be party poopers, but with our HR hat on and over 15 years’ experience, there’s many reasons why we urge you to avoid a boozy, drink-fuelled shin-dig.

Over indulgence at work Christmas parties can lead to serious embarrassment

The fall-out from staff parties where alcohol consumption has run riot can be devastating for businesses. Believe us, we have heard some truly cringe-worthy tales. Some of these aren’t without a little comedy value, but in extreme instances dangerous situations (not to mention reputational damage) can arise and that’s no laughing matter.

The bottom line is that all businesses should try to ensure the safety of their staff by not encouraging an environment that could lead to harm or pose a risk to their employees or members of the public.

Beyond the headaches boozy parties can lead to, the logistics of attending an event outside work hours can also cause problems, at times fostering resentment. They can be awkward if not impossible for working parents to get to, and can feel more like a punishment for the more socially awkward amongst us. They also often reinforce unhelpful work cliques or raise tensions.

We could all do with fewer headaches these days!

So, if you’re considering a hedonistic team get-together as a reward this festive season, we suggest you consider these alternative ideas first:

  • Plan an office party for a different season (mid-July or September). If you’re dead-set on an evening do, why not postpone it for a quieter time when diaries are not as jam-packed and the pressure to indulge is not as prominent?
  • Reinforce a positive workplace culture by making a charitable donation or setting up a volunteer day in lieu of an Xmas party. Get your team to vote for a cause that’s close to their hearts and donate a day of volunteer hours to support them. Whether it be helping out at a food bank, doing a beach or park clean or exercising animals at a local shelter, this can be a fulfilling and fun way to feel like you’re giving something back this Christmas.
  • Have a festive jumper day and provide a delicious, fresh, locally sourced lunch in the office. In our experience, staff are often delighted not to have to think about lunch for the day and there are usually leftovers to enjoy for a couple of days afterwards too!
  • If you’re an active bunch that likes a challenge, get your team together to tackle an escape room, do something unusual like axe throwing or a fun, competitive game of skittles or bowling.
  • For creative and artistic teams, bring in experts to host a crafting session, or visit a cookery school to do a cooking or baking workshop. There may even be the added perk of ending up with some homemade gifts – bonus!

So, rather than pressuring your team into a tipsy, trouble-laden party, focus on supporting your employees during the festive season with an emphasis on wellbeing, festive celebration and fun.

Read our recent blog on alternative, morale-boosting ideas for Christmas bonuses here.