There’s no getting away from it – we’re well and truly into the office party season. The great thing about being a freelancer is that I don’t have to go to any work Christmas parties if I don’t want to. I could hold my own but it would just be me, pulling a cracker, on my own. Not exactly festive, I think you’ll agree. Luckily a couple of clients have invited me to theirs – sadly I can only get to one of them but it should be fun.
Of course, I’m mindful of the fact that I’m not an employee so I definitely have to be on my best behaviour. The last thing any of us want is to build relationships with clients only to have them wrecked because we had one too many sherries at the office do.
So what do you do if it’s your business and you’re the one hosting the Christmas party?
Will everyone behave themselves?
There’s always one. That member of staff who takes to a free bar as if they’ve just emerged from the desert. Before you know it they’re swearing like navvies, harassing the waiters and whirling around the dance floor.
You could try restricting the free drinks to beers and wine or asking the bar staff to only serve spirits after a meal. If there’s no paid bar you could restrict access altogether but that won’t guard against a sneaky hip flask.
What’s the worst that could happen?
You might think that your office party is just for your staff. There might be a bit of bad behaviour but as long as no-one goes too far it’ll all be forgotten in the morning.
That may have been true once, but now we have the wonders of social media. The photos from your office party could be on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with your company name all over them. A photo that someone takes as a joke could be shared across the world in a few hours.
Your private Christmas party could suddenly have been shared with everyone, including your competitors and your customers. Even if you’re willing to turn a blind eye, your clients might not be.
Employment law vs the Christmas party
Employers are increasingly looking at candidates’ social media profiles when considering applications. Equally, an ill thought out post or evidence of inappropriate behaviour from one of your employees could give you grounds to dismiss them. Even if you’d rather not take that step, you may find yourself faced with a choice between one employee and a key client. Which are you going to choose?
So what do I do?
If you’ve already got a social media policy in place, circulate it again a couple of weeks before the party. That way it’s fresh in people’s minds. Otherwise, you need to think about what you expect people to do. Appropriate social media posts can be a great way to connect with your customers as they show you and your staff as human beings. You might want to limit posts to earlier in the evening when less drink has been taken or ask that the company name isn’t used on any personal photos.
You can always share any staff photos that are particularly good so you control what goes out with your name on it.
Do you share your Christmas party on social media? How do you handle it? Drop me a comment and let me know!