HR body warn against employers putting on free bar at Christmas party

Employers should reconsider the idea of having an open bar at office Christmas parties, according to a professional body for HR learning and development.

HR body warn against employers putting on free bar at Christmas party

Employers should reconsider the idea of having an open bar at office Christmas parties, according to a professional body for HR learning and development.

CIPD Ireland says while some might feel they’re showing generosity towards their hard-working teams, it’s not worth the risk.

Company Director Mary Connaughton said the advice is based on feedback from members around the country.

"Alcohol is a problem-causer at workplace social events. How many times have we heard the excuse ‘I drank too much’? For us, the solution is simple. Cut down on the amount of alcohol on offer. Provide a couple of drinks if you like, but make sure there are non-alcoholic alternatives and food available - avoid an open bar at all costs!”

Employers have certain responsibilities when it comes to activities they’ve arranged outside the normal workplace, even beyond office hours, and CIPD Ireland says they need to make sure they’re familiar with these.

Likewise, employees must bear in mind that they are expected to behave in a responsible manner and not put others in a position where they feel uncomfortable.

Ms Connaughton went on: “Around two thirds of Irish workplaces have drawn up a ‘Dignity at Work’ policy, covering areas of respect, discrimination, bullying, harassment,. We’d suggest that when people are mailing out updates on the party planning, they should refer to that policy, and invite people to have a look. Make sure a hard copy of the policy is available and visible in the office. It helps to get the point across that respect for yourself and others is expected, and consequences can follow if this is not maintained”.

CIPD Ireland is also highlighting the changing profile of Irish workplaces, which means alcohol can be an unwelcome factor when colleagues are socialising.

Ms Connaughton said she was pleased to see the diversity taking root in Irish workplaces.

“Many employers in Ireland set a great example of welcoming people from different backgrounds, and this is a wonderful asset, but must be respected at events like the Christmas party.

"Alcohol shouldn’t be centre stage and other types of activities should be considered. The idea is that, no more than during a normal work day, people must not be made uncomfortable. That’s the best starting point for creating a Christmas party atmosphere where everyone can relax and enjoy themselves, which is exactly what you want from the occasion!”

CIPD Ireland sad it was also welcoming the growing number of workplaces breaking the mould of the traditional office Christmas party, to try out activity days or other initiatives to allow workers to have a good time, without introducing alcohol to the occasion.

CIPD Ireland is an international, professional body which focuses on HR and learning. Its mission is to champion better work and working lives. By educating and developing people in the HR profession, it aims to improve working practices.

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