The Holiday Office Party .... Don't Let a Good Time Turn Bad

This time of year is the occasion for the traditional office party, when co-workers gather to enjoy the holiday cheer. One of the questions frequently addressed in planning for the party is whether or not alcoholic beverages will be served.

Increasingly, employers are being held liable for the acts of intoxicated employees. To eliminate this risk at your holiday function, you may choose not to serve alcoholic beverages. If alcoholic beverages will be served, consider these precautions:

Before the party, be sure to communicate to employees that excessive drinking will not be tolerated.

Convey to employees that the holiday party is purely a social event and that attendance is voluntary.

Hold the party at an off-site location and use professional bartenders to serve and monitor alcohol consumption.

Do not provide open bars. Instead, provide cash bars and implement a drink limit per individual (using a ticket system).

Stop serving alcohol early, well before the party's scheduled ending time.

Offer a wide variety of non-alcoholic beverages and serve plenty of food to slow alcohol absorption.

Arrange for alternative transportation for intoxicated individuals.

If the party is held at a hotel, arrange for a block of rooms that employees can reserve at a discount.

Although these suggestions may not eliminate liability, they will minimize your risk and will promote a holiday season of happiness and safety.

SESCO Management Consultants is available to assist with your human resource issues. You may contact us by phone at 423-764-4127 or by email at sesco@sescomgt.com.