Managing Sleepless Nights: Holiday Hazards

Posted by Lee Ann Collins, CPA, Managing Partner on Oct 28, 2019

My name is Lee Ann Collins, managing partner at Lane Gorman Trubitt, and this job is keeping me up at night.

I recently woke up from a nightmare where my company’s top employees had mugshots instead of headshots on the company website because they were too tipsy and rowdy at the Christmas party and got in trouble. I enjoy our holiday party, but it is a constant source of worry for me. When you mix alcohol, groups, and after-hours mentality you can end up with a disaster. I talked with my colleagues about this, and all of them had a holiday horror story that was managing partner nightmare fuel.

Why do we keep doing these events even though they are a liability? Because our employees deserve it. We have a hardworking team, and we want them to know how much we appreciate them! But that doesn’t mean that we don’t take precautions. Here are some tips to protect your company while rewarding your employees.

Drink tickets

Monitor and limit alcohol consumption. Offering drink tickets that limit attendees to two drinks not only helps reduce cost, it also helps prevent over-imbibing. You can also offer beer and wine and not hard liquor to help minimize problems.

Set your expectations

It is a must to let your employees know that the company expects them to party responsibly. Sending out an email before the party about safe holiday party practices is an easy way to communicate the guidelines. Let your employees know that they don’t have to drink at all to have a good time. It might also be a good idea to have personal conversations with new or younger employees who might be attending their first office holiday party.

Lay down the leadership

Remind your partners and principals to lead by example. It is hard to convince our junior staff to drink responsibility when a partner is wearing their shoes on their head and making off-color jokes about Santa. Have one or two people who will not be drinking to help monitor the room. Party monitors ensure that there will be someone to stop the Santa harassment before it happens.

Company Uber

Uber for Business allows you to set up an account, determine how your employees ride, and it is great for office parties. Consider opening an account to make sure none of your employees drive home while under the influence. There is even an option to provide ride vouchers that expire after a set amount of time. Lyft has a similar service.

Liability insurance

Even with all of the previous tips in place, there can still be problems. People who don’t drink can give their tickets to friends, individuals can bring in their own alcohol without you knowing, and functional intoxication levels vary with everyone. It is worth considering liability insurance. You probably have an insurance policy for the office that covers injuries or property damage. General liability insurance does not cover holiday parties. There is a range of options when looking at liability policies to help protect you company from the dangers of too much partying.

Whatever your plan for holiday parties this year, please make sure that you protect yourself and your employees.


Topics: managing sleepless nights, business liability, holiday party

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