Holiday Parties and Spirits on the Rise

Posted on December 12, 2006

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An article by the Society for Human Resource Management indicates that a survey of 110 leading U.S. businesses shows an increasing number of organizations are planning holiday parties this year and serving alcohol at those parties.

Ninety-four percent of those surveyed will have some type of year-end party, up from 87 percent in 2005, and more than half of those parties (58 percent) were slated to take place the week of Dec. 11. A nearly equal percentage were scheduled the weeks of Dec. 4 (17 percent) and Dec. 18 (15 percent). Five percent were planned for the week of Nov. 27 and 5 percent were planned for after the holidays.

Among the employers who will have some type of holiday celebration, 86% will serve alcohol, according to a Battalia Winston survey. In 2005, 75% served alcohol. Similarly, global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas found that 60% of employers plan to provide alcohol in 2006, up from 54% in 2005.

If your company is planning on serving alcohol at a holiday party, SHRM offers the following tips:

• Serve foods that slow the absorption of alcohol, such as those high in protein or starch.

• Avoid greasy and salty foods, which tend to encourage more alcohol consumption.

• Review your insurance policies for alcohol-related exclusions.

• Offer non-alcoholic beverages.

• Provide employees a limited number of drink tickets.

• Do not use employees to tend bar or provide alcohol.

• Make sure that bartenders have been trained not to over-pour drinks and not to serve those who appear to be intoxicated.

• To limit harm and liability, make sure bartenders have been trained to handle rowdy guests.

• Hire an off-duty police officer or security specialist to work during and after the party.

• Do not serve alcoholic punch or other beverages that make it difficult to gauge how much alcohol one consumes.

• Designate someone, preferably a supervisor, to refrain from drinking to monitor the party with event staff to curtail excessive serving of alcohol.

• Provide enough food and entertainment so that drinking is not the party’s focus.

• Close the bar an hour or so before the party ends.

• Arrange for designated drivers, reduced cab fares or hotel room rates, or offer to pay cab or hotel expense if employees obviously are alcohol-impaired.

Link to article

N. DeWayne Pope, DeWayne Pope LLC

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