One of the things many companies like to do at certain times of the year is to have a company party or special event. This is a morale booster for your employees and lets you get to know them and their families. The biggest issue is whether or not to have alcohol at these events. It is usually expected, but how do employers keep employees safe during the event? Keep in mind there can be legal liability for the company if this is not handled well. This post will provide some great tips for employers about serving alcohol at a company sponsored event. If you have a friend or family member with a drinking problem, contact Legacy Freedom. We're a top Columbus OH alcohol rehab center.
- Use trained bartenders to serve alcohol and never allow employees to serve their coworkers or themselves. Do not provide a self service beverage bar that includes alcohol. This invites excess drinking.
- Talk about your company culture with employees, emphasizing that drinking to excess is unacceptable during company events. Always include an alcohol usage guide in the company code of conduct.
- Always recruit your managers and event planning committee members ahead of the event or party. Instruct them to keep their eyes open for employees who may be overindulging in alcohol. Be sure to offer the employee a ride home, call a cab, or make certain that a designated non-drinking driver takes the employee home safely.
- Provide a late night snack buffet before employees depart for home to end the company event. It doesn’t have to be elaborate: tacos, sloppy joes, hot dogs, popcorn, cold cuts, or cheese and crackers are all good choices. Be sure to provide plenty of coffee and soft drinks. This will provide a focus for employees other than alcoholic beverages.
- When planning the event employers can pay for the event, the food, non-alcoholic drinks, and entertainment. To cut down on the excessive drinking offer a cash bar for employees. When employees must purchase their own drinks, they tend to drink less.
- Pay for cabs to sit outside your event in case an employee is advised or decides that he or she cannot drive safely. Better still you can schedule the event at a location that offers easy access to public transportation.
- Offer a variety of interesting, non-alcoholic beverages to remove the emphasis from alcohol.
- Nix alcohol except for beer and wine at company events that include children. This makes the party more family friendly.
- Never make drinking or eating the focus of any company event. Always make entertainment, speeches, presentations, games, dancing and/or activities for employees to participate in the focus of any company team building events.
- Instruct your bartenders that they are not to serve alcohol to any person who appears to be inebriated. They are also not allowed to serve alcohol to any person who appears to be under the legal drinking age. Bartenders must card these employees just as if they were attempting to order booze in a local tavern. Serving alcohol to minors (often interns) is the most significant liability for employers who serve alcohol at work events.
- Look at your company insurances to determine whether you have the appropriate coverage to serve alcohol at company events. According to SHRM, "John Keller, director of risk management and claims at Gulf Shore Insurance in Naples, Fla., said that many general liability policies cover host liquor liability. And if they don’t, and the company doesn’t regularly serve alcohol, the coverage is usually inexpensive to purchase separately. If caterers are working at the event, he said, it’s a good idea to ask them to give the company additional insured status so that the caterer’s policy will help protect against lawsuits."
- You can also limit the number of hours that the bar is open. Closing the bar during the dinner portion of the event and then again at a reasonable time before the end of the event can help employees avoid over indulging. You might also consider holding the event directly after work.
- Limit the number of drinks the company provides by using a drink ticket system or another informal method of tracking the amount of alcohol served. Another way to limit alcohol consumption is to consider stamping an employee’s hand in exchange for each drink. Then limit the number of stamps an employee can receive.
- Consider serving just beer and wine, no liquor. Avoid serving drinks such as alcoholic fruit punch that limit an employee’s ability to assess how much alcohol they are drinking.
- Always serve food, such as appetizers, from the start of the event so employees are not drinking on an empty stomach. Heavy appetizers minimize the effects of alcohol consumption.
- It is never okay for employees and applicants to drink alcohol during a job interview. Drinking at lunch job interviews should also be discouraged. You need to assess the applicant's fit with your organization without the influence of alcohol. If you're considering drinking with a client or customer, drink only if the client is drinking, and the recommended limit in a client or customer meeting is one glass of wine or beer.
All of these tips can help you find ways to make your event as safe as possible. If this is a yearly event then make sure the company has a specifically outlined policy about alcohol usage in the code of conduct. It is a good idea to have the Human Resources personnel go over this with potential employees. It is also a good practice to outline the consequences for poor behaviors related to alcohol either during a special event or with customers during a interview or lunch meeting.
Company sponsored events or parties can be a great social event. It is important for employers to keep everyone as safe as possible during the event. With the proper guidelines, planning, and lots of observation at the event employees will enjoy themselves and the company will keep things under good control.
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