Is a drug and alcohol policy required for your Christmas party?

Can you believe that Christmas is already just around the corner? 2016 has gone so quickly for many of us and, amazingly, business leaders are already planning for 2017!

However, before most think about 2017, there is the small matter of finishing 2016 off on the right note – commonly with a great Christmas party. As one of the last social functions of the calendar year, this is the opportunity to say thanks to your hardworking team and enjoy each other's company before breaking off for the summer.

Of course, if employees have their minds on holiday already, this can soon derail even the best planned Christmas party – attracting inappropriate and out-of-character behaviour. As well as becoming an employment issue, incidents around drugs and alcohol can have an impact on corporate reputation and culture.

Have you got a policy for your Christmas party?Have you got a policy for your Christmas party?

Is it worth hosting a party?

Based on 2015 research from the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) which polled close to 2,000 employees, the office Christmas party is rife with poor behaviour and questionable choices. Around 80 per cent of respondents have seen examples of this at previous parties as a result of too much alcohol or even drugs.

The most common issue was kissing a colleague – cited by 35 per cent of respondents. This was followed by shouting and aggression (30 per cent) and rudeness (28 per cent).

In fact, the consequences of Christmas party behaviour wasn't just seen on the night itself. A total of 30 per cent of employees admitted to coming to work hungover the next morning – potentially putting the company culture and reputation at severe risk.

The ILM survey noted that 25 per cent of organisations had decided against a Christmas party in the future as it is too risky. However, this could be a hasty decision. So, looking at the other side of the coin, what are the benefits of a Christmas party?

Finishing the year on a high

"It's the one time of year that you get the chance to truly reward employees for their input."

It's fair to say that some businesses have done extremely well in 2016, while others have struggled. Whichever category your business falls into, a Christmas party is the chance to finish the year on a high.

Away from the pressures of the office, employers can reward and recognise hard workers and set the tone for the following year. There is also the chance to engage with everyone on a personal level – breaking down communication channels and creating a rapport with the entire team at one event.

Head of Keele University Conferences and Events Sam Booth explained this in more detail.

"It's the one time of year that you get the chance to truly reward employees for their input and engage them with business objectives for the year ahead," he said.

Kate Cooper, head of research and policy at ILM, also echoes this sentiment.

"Christmas parties are an important and eagerly anticipated reward for staff and an opportunity for employers to show how much you value them, so they are worth investing in," she summarised.

Establishing safe behaviour boundaries

Establish good boundaries prior to your office Christmas party.Establish good boundaries prior to your office Christmas party.

Christmas parties are part of workplace culture in Australia, but to avoid any unnecessary stress, business leaders need to be smart with the way the event runs and the relevant policies in place.

One example is a drug and alcohol policy. As you start to plan end of year functions, employers can set the boundaries around acceptable behaviour and conduct, clearly highlighting the consequences of not following these guidelines. This is where the team at Flexi Personnel can help.

We understand the issues around staff end of year celebrations and can tailor a drug and alcohol policy to your workplace. We focus on customising solutions that allow business leaders to host a great party without the hangover of an incident or harm to the company reputation.

For more information about this type of policy, get in touch with us today.