Office holiday parties without a hitch: suggestions to celebrate in a responsible manner

The first snowfalls of November have announced the return of a special season for local businesses: the holidays. The same questions come up every year: employers are wondering how to offer a memorable evening to their employees while avoiding excesses and inappropriate behaviour. 

Here are some suggestions to consider for minimizing the possibility of incidents during office festivities. 

Consumption of alcohol or recreational cannabis and returning home 

The “open bar” formula is obviously much appreciated but it is the one that comes with the greatest risk of outbursts. The best way to maintain some control over alcohol consumption is to limit the number of glasses offered by the employer and to stop serving alcohol at a certain time. 

On another note, the use of recreational cannabis poses real challenges since its legalization in 2018. You should know that it is absolutely possible for an employer to simply forbid its consumption by informing employees in advance that the zero-tolerance rule will be applied during the party. 

In addition, it is of the utmost importance to offer options for a safe return home. For example, free public transportation tickets, taxi vouchers, or organized transportation will encourage people not to use their cars after drinking. 

Inadequate behaviour 

Excesses of enthusiasm (or alcohol) during parties can lead to inappropriate behaviour among colleagues. No behaviour of this nature can be tolerated and an employer must act without delay as soon it is made aware of such gesture. 

During the evening, make sure employer representatives stay sober and promote an atmosphere of good mood and respect. This way, the risk of questionable behaviours or potential situations of psychological or sexual harassment will be substantially mitigated. 

In conclusion, it should be kept in mind that even if the office holiday party is held outside of normal working hours and outside of the workplace, corporate policies pertaining to drug or alcohol consumption, as well as those pertaining to harassment, continue to apply. Any related misconduct will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action. 

By reminding employees of the standards of behaviour expected during the evening and by making sure to follow our few recommendations, you will set the tone for successful festivities. 

Happy Holidays!