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IMG_0777Company culture described by their holiday party? Can a company culture be described by their holiday party?

After reading this post, you will be able to describe this company culture as, fun, fearless, risk-taking, energetic, hardworking, loyal and very creative. How would your holiday party describe your culture?

The holiday season has come to an end. No more holiday decorations or company parties, or standing in long lines to buy the perfect gift for that special someone. For many, the end of the season is a sigh of relief!

Company holiday parties, are a great way to show employees your appreciation. A Holiday party is the perfect chance to have fun and enjoy the company of fellow employees in a social environment. However, the holiday party I am about to share with you can end up in a HR nightmare.

Company X for instance (The name will be left out for confidentiality reasons), had a holiday party that was seriously a college tailgate rather than a company holiday party. At this party, there was a generous amount of alcohol. Generous, is putting it mildly. I am NOT joking… this is every under-the-legal-drinking-age individual’s dream of a company party.

I will paint the picture for you. The company paid for all alcohol beverages and employees were allowed to drink at their leisure. The alcohol was stacked in pyramids in all five (5)-conference rooms. The vending machines… YES, the vending machines were stocked with alcohol! The company removed all the snacks and restocked it with a variety of beer cans! The games such as flip cup, and beer bong were played. Get this; there was even an ice sculpture that has a path carved out so alcohol shots could be poured down it like a slide, and into an employee’s mouth. It seems like a great party for the employees, in fact most of them look forward to this party… every year! Why wouldn’t they? Sounds like fun, right? For a tailgate…

However, as the HR person, who is reading this, is cringing! Just like my HR president was as I told her this story. This was not a typical company holiday party; like I said, this was a tailgate college party! And it makes great blog material to share with you!

We as HR professionals have a responsibility to deliver the realities and potential outcomes that could occur when being too nice, goes too far. The realities of potential workplace injuries, and lawsuits were definitely exposed with this type of company holiday party. Fortunately, nothing happened. But, it’s a matter of time until something does. You and I know there is always that one employee who takes things a little to far. Drinks just one more, says that one bad joke, trips just that one time. But that one time can lead to personal injury like, tripping and falling while rushing to get into the flip cup game in the conference room. Fall and hit their head on a desk, bump their knee into a file cabinet, or slip on the water from the melted ice sculpture used as the shot table, which can result in a workers’ comp claim. Further, company property, damage to printers, computers, phones, etc.

But now the employee has to get home. Whether by driving, taking a train, or even walking, they are putting themselves and others in potential danger. For example, getting a DUI, DWI, tripping and falling onto the train tracks, causing a car accident, or worse causing a fatality to himself or herself or someone else. These situations happen, you read and hear about them all the time and as a result, the company is held liable.

Holiday parties are meant to increase morale, have fun, and enjoy your success. But this company went a bit too far. I’m not saying it didn’t sound like fun from a personal perspective, but as an employer, this is just not healthy! They got lucky this year… I don’t want to spoil your good time, but eventually luck runs out! Having a great culture in your workplace only increases morale and retention. Don’t put yourself in the “lucky” spot, be proactive and work smart and don’t allow your hard work to end tragically. VRC can offer ways have a fun holiday party, and yet avoid potential lawsuits and dangers to your employees and your company.

Until next time!

Kevin Quinn