Do’s and Don’ts For Ensuring a Harassment-Free and Inclusive Holiday Party

Do’s and Don’ts For Ensuring a Harassment-Free and Inclusive Holiday Party

The holidays are here, which bring get-togethers, family celebrations, and office parties. After years of online happy hours and virtual festivities, 2022 marked a turning point as nearly 60% of employers returned to hosting in-person work holiday parties. While they can be joyful and bring employees and their employers together, in-person gatherings can quickly escalate into a lawsuit if employers aren’t careful. To avoid facing negative consequences, it’s imperative to follow “Do’s and Don’ts” of office celebration etiquette to ensure an inclusive holiday party that remains free of workplace misconduct. 

Do Be Inclusive 

Employers, it’s vital to ensure that your “Holiday Party” isn’t just a Christmas party and that it celebrates the traditions of all cultures. The party is a time to symbolize the achievements of all employees, not solely those who celebrate Christmas. By playing all Christmas music or games, The Washington Post notes that it sends the message that “some employees ‘belong’ more than others.” Additionally, HR Morning suggests selecting an accessible venue, accommodating employees who are bilingual and scheduling parties during work hours to accommodate employees with caretaking responsibilities. By hosting an inclusive holiday party, employers can boost morale and show employees that they are heard and valued. 

Do Limit Alcoholic Beverages 

As employees break away from their cubicles and debut their holiday best, it can be intimidating to chat with direct supervisors and fellow employees outside of the office in a new environment. While enjoying a few holiday-themed cocktails as liquid confidence is normal, over indulging poses risks of “horror stories” happening, according to Fortune. As judgment is impaired, normal conversations can escalate into harassment, misconduct, and even drinking and driving if situations are mishandled. To combat this, set aside time for team-building activities such as board games, trivia, singing karaoke, or gift-exchanging, so employees can bond and create lasting memories of wholesome experiences at the party. 

Don’t Neglect Professionalism 

By being professional and not taking the festive fun too far, employees limit the risk of HR challenges that can lead to repercussions in their role. In fact, on average, 14% of employees are terminated following an office party due to unprofessional behaviors such as dancing with or kissing coworkers. While a work holiday celebration is a time to have fun, it’s not a time to jeopardize relationships with employers and employees. 

Don’t Excuse Misconduct 

Even though work holiday parties may appear informal and laid-back compared to day-to-day office life, it’s inexcusable behavior for employees to make uncomfortable, offensive, or discriminatory comments both in the workplace and at the annual holiday party. Employers should keep an eye out for verbal misconduct and physical harassment and treat instances the same as they would be handled while employees are on the clock. 

As organizations gear up for upcoming holiday parties, remember that to have an inclusive, fun, and respectful celebration, it’s vital to follow the “Do’s and Don’ts” to ensure that the very same celebration doesn’t lead to misconduct claims, lawsuits, and lowered employee morale. With properly planned parties, employers can enhance culture, bond with fellow employees, and create a lasting tradition for the years to come. 

Learn more about Work Shield’s full-service misconduct solution here. 


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