Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Is your business rethinking its holiday party this year?

During the #MeToo portion yesterday's Best-Ever Year-End Employment Law Review that Five Employment Law Bloggers Have Ever Presented, Robin Shea suggested that the #MeToo Movement has altered employers' holiday-party plans this year.

Indeed, according to the 2018 Holiday Party Survey (conducted by the appropriately named outplace firm of Challenger, Gray & Christmas), 35% of employers do not plan to throw a holiday party this year, the lowest number since 2009. Given the current strength of our economy, one would expect an opposite trend, suggesting that something else is causing this uptick in grinchy employers.

The likely culprit? #MeToo.

Right around this time last year, I asked if the #MeToo movement was killing your office holiday party. I suggested that if you've need to tame down, or cancel, your holiday party, #MeToo isn't to blame, your workplace culture is.

Let me put this as clearly and bluntly as possible. #MeToo isn’t killing any fun. The behavior that #MeToo addresses was never fun to begin with.
If you are worried about #MeToo ruining your office holiday party, #MeToo isn’t the problem. The problem is your workplace culture.
Your holiday party is a reflection of your year-round culture as an employer. If your company has a culture of condoning harassment, then, yes, #MeToo is going to seem like a buzzkill, as it should. 
You need to decide what kind of employer you want to be, and set the tone year-round. Then, when it comes time for your annual holiday party, you shouldn't have to worry about changing rules so that employees don’t feel victimized at the party. And, if bad behavior happens, all of your employees will have confidence that you will respond to the offending behavior with the swiftness and severity it deserves.

In other words, the days of Animal House style holiday parties should be long behind us.

For more thoughts on avoiding liabilities and other workplace issues with your company's holiday party, click here for 7 tips to avoid the holiday party nightmare.

* Photo by Michael Discenza on Unsplash