Should HR Plan the Holiday Party?



I have had this argument for close to two decades. I even had a lengthily discussion a few years ago with a former CEO who stated that HR should embrace these types of activities.

Well based on my last comment you know that I am not in favor, however let’s have a good discussion on the topic…

Yes, it is Holiday party season for the next nine weeks. Many, if not all of you reading this, will get pulled in to this discussion at your organization. So, who owns the party and what should HR’s role be?

I argue that every organization will deal with this uniquely. Some will assign it to a function such as Marketing or HR. Others will defer to administrative support folks, and some will have an employee volunteer group handle the logistics. I like the latter. Having a team of volunteers handle it takes the burden off one specific department. Some feel that party planning is beneath them, yet others will argue that it provides a great opportunity to network and be visible.

Regardless of who is assigned this responsibility, here are a few quick tips:

1.       Be careful with alcohol. If you are serving it, then either put safeguards as to the volume of servings by either limiting consumption to a cocktail hour, providing some limited number of drink coupons, or ensuring you have a fallback plan to get any under the influence staff home safely.

2.       Keep the party generic from religious overtones, make it about the end of year and limit religious significance. Your employees can participate in religious activities with family and friends on their own time.

3.       Be sensitive to the variety of dietary needs of your employee population. At the very least, offer a vegetarian alternative to meat and fish.

4.       Be inclusive with music and dancing. I have seen several dance floor interactions bordering on receiving an “X” rating.  Talk to the DJ ahead of time to avoid the avoidable.

5.       Skip gifts or secret Santa activities.

6.       This is a good time to give out awards and recognition. Let your most senior folks handle this.

If you are in charge I wish you success and if not, I hope you participate, assist and enjoy….

Have a great Holiday season!



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