The perils of workplace Christmas parties. What to do – and what NOT to do
Workplace Christmas parties can be a wonderful chance to relax and unwind with your colleagues. But they’re also a potential minefield of faux pas and bad behaviour that can put jobs and livelihoods at stake. We’ve all heard the horror stories, so here’s our top 15 tips of what to do … and don’t.
- Don’t get drunk. It’s as simple as that. Drunk people make bad decisions, and when you’re going to be mingling with the people who can fire you, this is the last thing you need.
- Do use it as an opportunity for workplace networking. You don’t want to monopolise anyone’s time, but if there’s a colleague you’ve long admired but never had the chance to meet, a quick introduction and chat lays a great platform for a follow-up back at work on Monday.
- Don’t hit the party on an empty stomach. First of all, it will make you more susceptible to the effects of alcohol. Secondly, people will notice if you jump on the waiters as soon as they appear from the kitchen with a new platter – or if you take a mini quiche with one hand and three kebabs with another. It doesn’t matter if you are hungry – this is one case where greed is not good.
- Do keep your thoughts on what management is doing wrong to yourself. Yes, it might be the only time all year you’ll find yourself in the same room as your managing director, but we guarantee now is not the time to tell him what his team of leaders should be doing differently.
- Don’t indulge in public displays of affection. There is no situation where your colleagues – and bosses – want to see you getting it on. Also keep a lid on your seductive ways. Whether you’re single or not, making a pass at anyone at the party – especially a co-worker – is an almost guaranteed recipe for black marks on your employee record.
- Do dress to impress, not to attract. Yes, you might favour barely there leather in your time off, but what you need to remember, above all else, is this is still a work function, so pick an outfit that will draw attention for all the right reasons.
- Don’t bring out the less charming sides of your personality. Even if you genuinely believe what you’re saying, this is no forum in which to clue people in on the fact you are sexist, racist, sizist or abusive in any way.
- Do leave the lout at home. Even if you’re known as the life of the office, management will not look too fondly or someone who puts them at risk of legal action, whether it’s standing on tables to sing or dancing erratically.
- Don’t take your shoes off. Even if you’re stone cold sober and just want to ease a blister, someone will take a photo and it will forever be assumed you took them off in a drunken stupor.
- Do leave when you’ve had enough to drink and don’t be swayed to say on. Ideally, you won’t hit this point too early in the night, as you should at least make it to the speeches. But as soon as you start to think: “You know what would be funny…” , take it as a sign to hail a cab.
- Don’t use social media to document the night’s journey from dressing to debaucherous. And especially don’t tag your colleagues, venues or workplaces as this opens your updates to a much wider audience than just your friends.
- Do make an effort to get on board if there’s a theme. Even if dressing up is not your thing, it will make you look like a team player. And who knows, you might even enjoy the experience.
- Don’t RSVP and then not attend. Unless you’ve got a really good excuse, like the arrival of a child, bosses will look very poorly on someone who wasted money and effectively turned their noses up at the effort that went into creating an end-of-year thank you for staff members.
- Do keep an eye on your plus one. We’ve all seen that employee who’s partner got so wasted they were all anyone was talking about for weeks afterwards. And it won’t just be the underlings who are talking, but management as well.
- Don’t just talk about work. Yes it is a work party, but the whole point is to put aside clients, deadlines, workload and more for the night and just relax. If you’re stuck for conversation, reach for topics guaranteed to elicit a response, such as the weather, reality TV or great tourist hotspots.
And finally, a couple of big do’s for management.
- Do choose a venue with good proximity to public transport. This not only gives people good access, it also cuts the risk of poor decision making with regards drink driving and the like.
- Do serve food – you don’t want your staff drinking on an empty stomach.
- Make a point of mingling as much as you can. Whether you realise it or not, you’re a big deal in your company, so the effort to talk to as many staff members as possible will not only be appreciated, it will be noted.