How to reduce liability from alcohol-related incidents at office party

Your boss plans to throw a celebration for the entire office and says he will include booze in the celebration. Does that worry you about the occurrence of any untoward alcohol-ridden incidents? If that is the case, then you should indeed read this and follow the rules ahead. 

Every office party that has booze should be well planned- no one wants it to be a pure booze fest but should ensure the employees and people invited have a good time and not make a fool out of themselves with any alcohol related incident. Nowadays, most corporate celebratory events have introduced alcohol at work or celebration for employees. As of present, most workplaces bring in alcohol for outings and holiday parties, though the amount is less than half of the people. This is solely to limit the amount of booze the employees should have. Also, one will often find one or two employees who will binge drunk at parties, thus creating an uncomfortable alcohol related incident/mishap.

Alcohol affects the perceptions of people drastically. Every person has a different reaction to it, and so are the risks associated with the situation. When some can control their drink and keep going strong, some employees get dead drunk and may end up acting irresponsibly and inappropriately. If the office party is set on serving alcohol to the employees, the primary concern should be keeping the employees safe and limiting the employees’ alcohol intake in order to avoid any embarrassing alcohol related incident. To maintain a controllable environment and avoiding any alcohol related incident at office party, follow the golden steps.

Avoiding office party alcohol incidents

Alcohol Related Incidents/ Mishaps at office party

Evaluate what could go wrong in the party

Be it an outing or a celebratory event; an employer should always create a safe environment. When people drink over their limit, the inhibitions go wrong, and often situations go worse. Following are the situations that may occur:

  • Sick and bloated employees
  • Inappropriate behavior or acts
  • Sexual harassment
  • Fighting or arguing
  • Drunk driving
  • Employees are forced to drink out of pressure from coworkers.
  • Coworkers indulging in PDA
  • Falling or injuries
  • Underage employees drinking

How to prepare for an alcohol-based office party?

There are several things that the employer should keep in mind while planning an office party with alcohol:

  • Safe transportation home: The employer should arrange ridesharing vehicles, taxis, or transit passes for employees to reach home safely without any mishaps.
  • Offsite party venue: It is better to host a party beyond the office premises to avoid any issues or awkward moments the day after.
  • Serve beer and wine, avoid liquor: Avoid serving hard liquor and drinks, and opt for beer and wine to keep the situation calm and keeping alcohol related incident in check.
  • ‘Work’ conduct at the party: Remind the employees about your expectations of similar conduct in the party, as they deliver at work.
  • Professional bartenders: It is essential to bring in professional bartenders to the party for serving the drink, as they understand the signs when someone is drunk or has had over their limit. They can then prevent serving liquor to that person.
  • Non-alcoholic drinks: Ensure that the party has non-alcoholic drinks like soda and juice. It is perfect for people who don’t take alcohol or for the ones who have had one drink and want to switch to non-alcoholic options. One can also include sparkling apple cider, ginger beer, or a non-alcohol content beer.

Preventing over-indulgence

  • Never let employees self-serve: Self-serving means a person pouring out drinks after drinks for themselves and overindulging in the booze, contributing inappropriately in the office party. If employees are left to pour out their drinks, they will pour with a heavy hand. That would make it tougher to monitor who is beyond their limit or inebriated.
  • Offer drink tickets: This essentially limits the employees to a specific number of drinks.
  • Close down at a reasonable hour: Close the office party down at a responsible hour so that there are no chances of untoward incidents later. If the party goes to an after-party beyond the office premises, that’s not your concern.
  • Limit alcohol serving time: Make sure that alcohol is served only during the cocktail hour and not before or after that. Also, avoid serving alcohol during speeches.
  • Stop alcohol serve before the party ends: This will ensure the employees and invitees sober up before leaving for home.
  • Serve hearty food: Everyone ends up drinking more than required and skip meals in the end, or drink too much on an empty stomach. This makes them bloated or nauseous. Always ensure there is plenty of food so that everyone goes home on a full stomach.

How to prevent sexual harassment at the alcohol-based office party?

Having alcohol means increasing the chances of sexual harassment. It is essential to ensure that there is no untoward incident like that at the office party.

  • Always intervene if there is inappropriate behavior: Empower everyone in the room to step in and stop if they see someone is being pressured or harassed against their will.
  • ‘Hook up’ not allowed: Remind workers that they should be at their best professional behavior in the party and no ‘hook-up.’
  • Hire professional security: You can also consider getting a professional security guard to avoid any alcohol related incident and ensure that the guard keeps an eye on secluded areas to ensure the people are safe.

Follow these steps, and you can avoid any risk or untoward alcohol related incident at the office party.

(Image Credit: Freepik)

Anna Verasai
Anna Versai is a Team Writer at The HR Digest; she covers topics related to Recruitment, Workplace Culture, Interview Tips, Employee Benefits, HR News and HR Leadership. She also writes for Technowize, providing her views on the Upcoming Technology, Product Reviews, and the latest apps and softwares.

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