As the holiday season approaches, so too does the season of office holiday parties. While these events can be fun ways for staff to celebrate hard work and develop friendships outside the stress of the workplace, holiday parties can also be a liability concern for management.
From overindulgence in alcohol to transportation concerns, there are many practical considerations that any company should take seriously when planning a holiday party. Luckily, there are simple steps that can be taken to ensure a fun yet safe holiday party for all. Read on for a few key tips on how to reduce liability when organizing a holiday party.
Review Your Insurance Policy Before Planning Anything
Before you start buying decorations and sending out invites, there’s some key preparation you should do for any office holiday party: check your company insurance policy. Just as you would recommend to your clients, make sure your current policy covers instances of property damage or injury. Unfortunately, as you know, your typical insurance policy may not fully cover aspects of a party.
For instance, if the event is held at your office, you may need to buy Liquor Liability insurance if property damage or bodily injury occurs specifically as a result of alcohol. Most General Liability policies exclude all alcohol-related incidents from their protections.
Once you know the extent of your policy and liability, clearly outline expectations in any written materials disseminated to staff. Remind employees that the party isn’t mandatory. You can also re-share any relevant company policies about conduct, as these should still be in place at an offsite event.
Set Yourself Up for Success
Once you’ve reviewed your insurance policies and purchased any additional coverage, you can continue with party planning – and here’s another opportunity to reduce liability. While many office parties are portrayed in traditional media as boozy, all-hours celebrations, there are arrangements you can make to avoid such a scenario.
Consider providing carpool arrangements or rideshare reimbursements to ensure that nobody faces the risk of drinking and driving. Provide plenty of food to make sure nobody drinks on an empty stomach, and try to provide alternate activities that aren’t based on drinking – a gift exchange or group game can help make an event feel more focused. Finally, consider setting the office party during daylight hours, or allowing family (of all ages) to attend, as this will help clarify that overindulgence isn’t acceptable.
Skip the Open Bar – and More
These earlier tips are broader suggestions to help guide the mood of the party, but when it comes specifically to alcohol, you can take plenty of concrete steps to reduce liability. Avoid throwing an office event with an open bar, as this can quickly lead to overindulgence. Instead, make it clear to attendees that they’ll be purchasing their drinks, or perhaps be given one or two drink vouchers for the night. This will greatly limit how much each partygoer ends up drinking.
And when it comes to other legal substances, such as cannabis, caution employees on the risks involved with mixing substances. Whether the event is being held at your office or another site, follow all local and federal laws when it comes to smoking indoors (including cigarettes).
Set an End Time
Finally, a great way to reduce liability at any company holiday party is to set an established end time. Make this clear to guests on the invitations and during the event itself, and stop serving alcohol at least an hour before the party is set to end. If providing transportation, ensure you give plenty of clear, easy ways for guests to leave safely. All of the above tips will help create the perfect holiday party for any business while reducing liability. With plenty of preparation, holiday parties can be both fun and safe for everyone at the office!