Workplaces across Australia will enjoy end-of-year celebrations throughout December, and while the office Christmas party is supposed to be a fun occasion, it also presents a number of risks associated with mixing alcohol and office antics. In fact, one in four workplace fatalities over the past decade occurred in the lead-up to Christmas.
End-of-year fatigue and the rush to finish tasks and go on holidays, as well as increased alcohol consumption, increase the risk of workplace-related accidents and incidents.
Excessive alcohol intake at work events also increases the risk of inappropriate behaviour, which can prove a headache once the hangover sets in.
The end-of-year celebration is an opportunity to let off some steam, and while this should be encouraged to a certain extent, it often doesn’t take much for things to get out of hand.
Businesses should undertake risk assessments when planning workplace events, and set out guidelines of appropriate behaviour.
Employees should also be mindful that while the Christmas party is a social event, they are still mixing in a professional setting.
I recommend the following for all end-of-year workplace celebrations:
1. Staff behaviour
Communicate the expected code of conduct; remind staff of your business' official policies on code of conduct and harassment and grievance procedures.
2. Alcohol and drugs
Ensure your business has a drug and alcohol policy that clearly sets out expectations and consequences. Remind staff to drink responsibly and to be respectful to others.
Remind everyone not to drink if they are driving, to carpool with friends and to make their own arrangements to travel home safely.
Ensure staff are aware of the procedure should they need help during or after the event. Provide key contacts in case of an emergency.
Ensure the venue for the function has been risk assessed to identify any issues prior to the event. These should be addressed and where possible mitigated to ensure safety.
Trust that your people will accept this communication in the right spirit and that your business is committed to meeting your moral and legal obligations by ensuring the safety of all staff.
This message should not prevent everyone from having a safe and happy end-of-year celebration.
Frank Ribuot is the CEO of Randstad Australia & New Zealand.