Christmas time can be an exciting time to be at work. There are lots of parties, presents are exchanged between colleagues and decorations give the workplace an entirely different feel. However, there are a number of simple mistakes that line managers make during this time; often with significant consequences. This article will hopefully assist all of our readers to navigate safely through the festive season at work.
When planning the office Christmas Party
- Clearly distinguish between formal and informal staff functions
- Just because your party is being held at an external venue, does not mean that you are exempt from Occupational Health and Safety regulations. A separate risk assessment should be conducted for each venue that an event is held at
- Consider accessibility for people with disabilities
- Place limitations on the availability of alcohol and ensure non-alcoholic beverages are available
- Provide plenty of food (especially if alcohol is being provided)
- Consider allergies and dietary requirements when planning menus
- Remind attendees that they are attending a company-sponsored event and as such the company’s code of conduct still applies
- Arrange for a safe transportation home if providing alcohol at the event
- Consider employee part-funded models
When decorating the office
- Be aware of fire hazards and the proximity of decorations to electrical appliances
- Use step ladders to hang decorations, not desks or chairs
- Be aware of trip hazards
- Do not hang things on door knobs, sprinklers or emergency exit signs
Duty of care to staff working over the holidays
Often in the rush to get off to our own holidays we can forget to brief the staff that are holding the fort over the Christmas period! Always make it a priority to ensure that staff are given clear reporting lines and processes to follow if they need assistance or encounter an emergency.
A sad time of year for some people
Although most of us would like to think that Christmas time is a happy, light hearted time for everyone, sadly this is not the case for many people. At Christmas time, often those people that already feel a little socially isolated, anxious or depressed can be left feeling helpless as they see others around them enjoying the fruits of the festive season. Most years, this results in heightened rates of depression and suicide. Most medium and large employers have access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Often a short reminder about such services via email or a post on the company intranet can be a worthwhile initiative at this time of year.
If your company does not have access to an EAP service then there are also free counselling services that could be publicised. Crisis support services can be accessed by calling Lifeline on 13 11 14. Lifeline also provide a range of free resources at their website: www.lifeline.org.au/ . Alternatively, Beyond Blue is a government initiative targetting depression. Beyond Blue provide a specialised referral service and a range of resources that can be accessed by calling 1300 22 4636 or by visiting their website: www.beyondblue.org.au
Your experience and insights?!
Have we forgotten anything? Why not post a reply below to share any additional thoughts or insights you might have with the rest of our readers?