Looking forward to this year’s office Christmas party?
Of course you are. It’s a great chance to let your hair down, get to know your colleagues a bit better and build up a bit of team spirit.
And if you get the chance to have the odd drink or two into the bargain, so much the better.
But here’s a statistic which may just be worth bearing in mind before you unleash yourself fully onto your workmates.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development reckons 10% of workers know of a colleague who has either been disciplined or dismissed for inappropriate behaviour at the Christmas bash.
Common reasons include fighting, threatening behaviour, sexual harassment, bullying, discrimination and other “inappropriate behaviour".
You can count ‘unorthodox’ use of the office photocopier, amorous activity and insulting the boss amongst that latter category.
Because, whatever you might think, the office Christmas party is essentially an extension of the workplace and all the usual rules of office life apply.
The good news is that it’s perfectly acceptable to:
Get to know people from other areas of the organisation
Discuss personal interests
Network with senior staff
But you can’t use the festive bash as an excuse to force yourself on the colleague you’ve had a crush on for the last 12 months unless you want to end up on the wrong side of a sexual harassment claim.
Remember, just because you’re in a social setting, there’s no excuse for offensive banter, unwanted advances, insulting behaviour or crude and discriminatory conduct, and your boss is well within their rights to invoke the company’s disciplinary procedure if your behaviour is wide of the mark.
So, how do you ensure you have a great night out without falling foul of your boss or an employment tribunal?
Firstly, watch what you drink. Stay within your limits and remember that the party still falls within work time. You wouldn’t make offensively crude jokes on a Tuesday in the office, so don’t make them on a Friday night out just because you’ve had one too many.
Similarly, you wouldn’t force yourself on the office hunk during the weekly sales meeting, so don’t do it now just because you’ve got a bit of Dutch courage in you. You’ll just open yourself up to a sexual harassment claim and a potentially career-destroying legal nightmare.
You’re still at work, so be professional. Dress appropriately and keep your behaviour dignified. It might seem a good idea to tell the boss just what you think of him, but believe us, it never is. Manners maketh the man – and a dose of bad behaviour can very quickly unmake him.
So mingle, don’t talk work, let your hair down a little and enjoy the night in a professional, sensible way.
That way you won’t wake up next day dreading the thought of returning to work.