I’ve been reading with interest various warnings about behaviour at Christmas parties and outings. It’s been intriguing to learn that some organisations are doing things differently to avoid embarrassing outcomes.
A few years ago, around this very time, I was invited to a very swanky ‘Do’ by the organisation I was about to join. We foregathered in our finery at a posh central London hotel. There was live music, food, dancing – and masses of booze. The CEO does not do things by halves, as it were.
Trouble was, our wine glasses were huuuuuge and very attentive staff kept filling them up – to their considerable capacity. I started to feel decidedly squiffy after a couple of hours. Knowing I had to get myself home from central London unaided, at a certain point I realised I had to stop drinking alcohol. Unfortunately, not everyone did the same.
I left said ‘Do’ in full swing about 11 o’clock and started working with this organisation the following Monday. On my first morning, I learnt that we had a potential disciplinary on our hands, arising from events that occurred after I left.
An employee (whose role involved daily contact with vulnerable children) had got very drunk and behaved aggressively towards the partner of another employee and a member of the venue’s staff. He was suspended and an investigation ensued. He was so mortified when he learnt what he had done – he was too drunk to remember – he resigned. In the process, we learnt he had a troubled past and considerable psychological baggage.
The CEO bemoaned the fact that several other staff had also drunk themselves senseless that night, to the extent they did not give full attention to his end-of-year address. I was new in post and trod gently. He struggled to accept that his generosity had been a contributing factor.
I think it’s wise to remind people they are expected to behave professionally at company festive events. As adults, we should of course control our alcohol intake. But, if you offer unlimited alcohol, huge glasses and waiters who constantly top them up, trouble is likely to ensue. Sensible employers should consider that.
On that note, enjoy your Christmas cheer, be it Aperol Spritz or apple juice, prosecco or Pepsi. I’m going to enjoy coffee and mince pies tomorrow afternoon with one of my clients. It remains to be seen if anything stronger will be on offer!
See you on the other side.