Investigation reports complied by iHR Australia’s investigators show that end of year work parties increase the risk of inappropriate behaviour.
End of year functions are an important event to celebrate and to recognise the year’s efforts and achievements and opportunity to socialise with colleagues. On the other hand, they can result in allegations of inappropriate behaviour, in particular sexual harassment and unprofessional conduct.
iHR Australia’s Managing director Stephen Bell emphasises the importance of managers understanding their role in such functions. “Not only is it important that managers participate and enjoy the function, but that they also remember they are ultimately responsible for the wellbeing of those who attend. Gone are the days where managers could let go of their inhibitions and over indulge in alcohol. This is the moment where their duty of care can be put to the test and they must be able to respond appropriately”.
iHR Australia’s Director Professional Services Eileen Walsh outlines some key guidelines to minimise risk of inappropriate behaviour at such functions
- Provide clear communication of behavioural expectations under relevant policies and code of conduct to all staff prior to the event. Remind staff that such obligations also apply to any work related functions.
- Ensure alcohol consumption is monitored by management to reduce the risk of incidents resulting from intoxication.
- Introduce or reinforce the organisations social media policy, particularly in regards to the posting of photos and comments relating to the event.
- Communicate start times but in particular when the event finishes.
- Ensure a prompt response to any inappropriate behaviour during the event and any allegations or complaints post the event.
- Communicate what arrangements are in place for transport post the event.
Whilst an end of year function is an event that staff and management should look forward to, key steps should be taken before, during and post the function to minimise the risk of incidents and poor behaviour.
Further reading: Social Media and the Christmas Party