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The office Christmas party

Posted on 8th December 2016

It’s that time of the year again – the office Christmas party. A strange social and work event which can sometimes get out of hand with plenty of opportunities for people to forget that while it may be a party, you’re still technically at work and something you do at the party could then come back and haunt you later.

Here’s a list of suggestions to help you navigate the minefield:

Don’t drink too much

The office Christmas party is a time to let your hair down and relax after a, probably, tough 2016 but remember you are still at work. Your superiors will be at the party so you’re probably still being watched by them and the last thing you want to do is ruin a year of good work with drunken antics. So, be sensible, don’t over-indulge and definitely don’t let the alcohol give you the confidence to confront a colleague about something that has been annoying you for a while – the Christmas party is the worst time and place to do that! Don’t assume that anything you do at the Christmas party is exempt from a disciplinary sanction.

Stay away from office gossip

It’s always entertaining be up to date on all the office gossip but don’t spread gossip at the party. You never know who is listening and where the information will go. If you’ve been drinking and your inhibitions are lowered you may accidentally let something slip you didn’t intend to. Just relax and enjoy the party. Comments which cause upset to others can amount to bullying or harassment. Motivation is irrelevant. One person’s jokey banter could be another person’s harassment.

Don’t dress inappropriately

Whilst you may be attending a party, you are still at work so dress appropriately. This doesn’t mean that you can’t dress up, just use your judgment and wear something that you won’t be embarrassed about when you come into work following the party and see photos. The dress code may not apply but a common sense approach is best.

I will leave you with a cautionary tale involving bankers, drinking and licking

Mr Jones and his colleague Mr Battersby both worked for MBNA and were attending a work event at Chester Racecourse to celebrate its 20th anniversary. The staff attending the event were told that this was a work event and the normal standards of behaviour and conduct would apply. The event began at 7pm. Mr Battersby began drinking at midday and Mr Jones began drinking at around 5pm. Early on during the event Mr Battersby kneed Mr Jones in the back of his leg and Mr Jones licked Mr Battersby’s face. People who saw the incident said that it seemed to be in good fun and high spirits. Later in the evening, Mr Jones was standing with his arm around Mr Battersby’s sister when Mr Battersby came over and kneed Mr Jones in the leg again. Mr Jones punched Mr Battersby in the face. MBNA held disciplinary meetings with both Mr Battersby and Mr Jones. Mr Jones was dismissed for gross misconduct and Mr Battersby was given a final written warning.

So, remember, although the office Christmas party takes place outside of your usual working hours, it is technically and in most cases still a work event and you are expected to behave in keeping with your employer’s usual standards of behaviour. If you’re involved in an incident at the party it’s likely to follow you to work the next day and cause problems.

So:

  • Be sensible.
  • Don’t get too drunk.
  • Enjoy yourself.
  • Get to work on time the next day if you are expected to be there.

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