Does your company provide alcohol for your employees at company events? If so you may have at least wondered if this practice, as much as many employees enjoy it, is still a good practice. You certainly want your employees to enjoy these events but you also want to keep them safe and the company free of liability claims.
Whether your event is a company milestone or birthday, an employee's retirement party, or a holiday event – the latter of which is coming up very soon – use these tips to plan an alcohol safe event.
Don't Make Alcohol the Focus of Work Events
Offer a variety of interesting, non-alcoholic beverages, to remove the emphasis from alcohol. And never make drinking, or eating, for that matter, the main focus of any event. Always make the entertainment, speeches, presentations, games, dancing and/or activities for employees to participate in the main focus of any company team building events, not the open bar.
Consider serving just beer and wine, and no liquor and avoid serving drinks like fruit punch that limit an employee’s ability to assess how much alcohol they are consuming.
Limit How Much Alcohol Is Available
- Limit the number of drinks the company provides using drink tickets or another informal method of tracking the amount of alcohol served. If you want to limit alcohol consumption, consider stamping an employee’s hand in exchange for each drink and limit the number of stamps an employee can receive.
- Limit the number of hours that the bar is open. Close the bar during dinner and at a reasonable time to signal the drawing to a close and ending of the event. You might also consider holding the event directly after work so employees party from 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. for example.
- Use trained bartenders to serve alcohol; never allow employees to serve coworkers or themselves. Never provide a help-yourself beverage bar that includes alcohol.
- Make sure your bartenders are clear that they are not to serve alcohol to any person who appears to be inebriated. Bartenders must card these employees just as if they were attempting to order booze in a local bar.
- Pay for the event, the food, non-alcoholic drinks, and entertainment, but provide a cash bar for employees. When employees have to purchase their own drinks, they drink less.
Prepare for (Some) Overindulgence
Recruit your managers , in advance, to keep their eyes open for employees who may be overindulging. Offer the employee a ride home, call a cab, or make certain that a designated non-drinking driver takes the wheel.
Be Sure You're Covered Legally
Take a look at your company insurances to determine whether you have the appropriate coverage that allows you to serve alcohol at company events
You may also want to consider asking employees to review and sign a document that provides company alcoholic beverage guidelines, and that informs employees they are liable for their behavior at company-sponsored events.
Make it clear in the document that employees can expect there to be consequences for over-imbibing or poor interpersonal behavior up to and including employment termination. You can do this as employees RSVP for the work event.
Alcohol can be a festive addition to a company event, but at company events, as in your workplace, employee safety is your top concern.