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Is Your Company Planning a Holiday Party? A Guide for Human Resource Professionals

As the holiday season approaches, Human Resource professionals face challenges related to company holiday parties. While these events are meant to foster camaraderie and boost employee morale, they can also be a potential minefield for HR issues. From inappropriate behavior to inclusivity concerns, the holiday party can be a tricky terrain to navigate.

  1. Inappropriate Behavior

Employees may let their guard down in a festive atmosphere, leading to incidents of harassment, discrimination, inappropriate behavior, or other unwelcome misconduct. HR professionals should take proactive steps to prevent these issues:

  • Clear communication: Prior to the event, send out reminders to employees about company policies and expectations regarding behavior.
  • Monitoring and intervention: Have HR staff present at the event and be prepared to address inappropriate behavior promptly.
  • Anonymous reporting: Provide a discreet way for employees to report any incidents they witness or experience.

2. Alcohol-Related Concerns

Alcohol is often an integral part of holiday parties, but it can lead to problems:

  • Excessive drinking: Some employees may overindulge, potentially leading to disruptive or embarrassing behavior.
  • Liability issues: If an intoxicated employee is involved in an accident after the party, the company could face legal repercussions.

To mitigate these risks:

  • Encourage responsible drinking, such as implementing a drink ticket system or limiting the number of free drinks.
  • Provide non-alcoholic options. Not only will this help cut down on alcohol related issues, but it also reinforces inclusivity by recognizing that not all employees can or do drink alcohol.
  • Consider arranging for transportation options or rideshare services to ensure employees get home safely.

3. Inclusivity and Diversity

Not all employees celebrate the same holidays or participate in holiday traditions. HR professionals should be mindful of promoting an inclusive and diverse environment:

  • Title and theme: Consider using neutral titles like “End-of-Year Celebration” instead of “Holiday Party.”
  • Diverse decorations: Decorate the event space with a variety of cultural symbols to reflect your diverse workforce.
  • Dietary restrictions: Ensure that the food and beverages accommodate various dietary preferences and restrictions.

4. Work-Life Balance

Holiday parties often occur outside of regular working hours, which may be a concern for employees striving for a healthy work-life balance:

  • Ensure the event doesn’t feel mandatory and emphasize that attendance is optional.
  • Offer flexible scheduling options to accommodate those who may not be able to attend.


Company holiday parties can be a fantastic way to boost employee morale and build camaraderie within the organization. However, HR professionals must be vigilant and proactive in addressing potential issues that can arise during these events. By focusing on clear communication, inclusivity, and responsible alcohol consumption, HR teams can ensure that the holiday party remains a positive and enjoyable experience for all employees. Remember, with the right strategies in place, the holiday party can be a wonderful way to celebrate and appreciate your workforce.

The Business Practice Group at Stock and Leader is ready to discuss concerns, answer questions, and provide counsel on any of your employer’s issues.

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