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Holiday hangovers

Holiday parties for employees should follow some rules to avoid problems
Celebrations are important and holiday parties are a great way to show your employees how much you appreciate them and their efforts on your behalf. But...

{mosimage} Celebrations are important and holiday parties are a great way to show your employees how much you appreciate them and their efforts on your behalf. Well-planned events create good will, improve morale, and provide an opportunity to make your own Kodak moments. But there are a few precautionary steps you should take to make sure your memories are good ones.

We all know that alcohol and driving don't mix. We also know that when people relax after a few drinks, employers are much more exposed to sexual harassment complaints, public liability issues, and workers comp claims. A causal remark, a roving hand, an auto accident, or a fall on the dance floor can add up to a big hangover for everybody.

To avoid potential problems, it is often recommended that you refrain from serving alcohol at company parties, but this may seem a bit draconian to some. So if you're going to serve alcohol at your party, try to control the amount consumed. Limit the number of alcoholic drinks with vouchers, open a cash bar mid-way through the event, or close the bar an hour or two before the end of the party. Be sure to serve plenty of food and non-alcoholic beverages, and make arrangements to have designated drivers or public transportation easily available.

When determining liability for an employee's actions, courts often consider the nature of the event. Was it organized and sponsored by management, or did employees get together on their own? Was it a social or a business event? To help make the distinction clear, don't conduct business at your party (that can include giving awards and making speeches); don't require attendance; don't pay employees to attend; and if possible, don't schedule your event during normal business. It's also good policy to invite spouses and families, and to inform them about your company policies regarding behavior at company sponsored events.

Finally, a note for those of you who host or cater company policies in or through your restaurant: As an involved third party who provides or serves alcohol, some liability is shifted from the employer or the sponsor to you. Whether you host parties on site or cater events off premise, you'll want to protect yourself. Download a Party Checklist to give to customers who are planning events with you. It's a simple and important way to help protect yourself, and it truly benefits everyone concerned.

Have safe and sane celebrations during the holidays, and all through the year.


Bill Main is a nationally-recognized author, consultant and speaker. His company, Bill Main & Associates, specializes in strategic growth plans for foodservice entrepreneurs. For information on how you can grow your top line revenues through innovative marketing, menu, leadership and training systems, visit www.billmain.com.

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