It’s that time of year when we tend to let our hair down and enjoy the party season. However don’t relax too much and do something you’ll later regret, advises Barry Whelan



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11 December 2014

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We are all in the full swing of Christmas festivities at this point in December and looking forward to the end of the year. Of course whilst December is ‘The most wonderful time of the year’, it is also the time for the annual Christmas party, the supplier/customer drinks, the Grocer’s Lunch and the odd award ceremony. And whilst these events are important for a myriad of reasons, they are also a recipe for career disaster that can spell an end to promotional opportunities. A few too many drinks on an empty stomach can turn an enjoyable Christmas event into car crash TV.

Christmas party survey

We carried out a MailChimp survey on a group of our retail candidates about their thoughts on the Christmas party and the results tell a tale or two.

The Christmas party is intended to be jovial and relaxing, and can be an important tool in creating a bond between groups of colleagues. But, despite good intentions, there are some Christmas parties where the good times go bad.

Here’s what it found out about our Christmas party festivities:

  • 95% of employees attend the Christmas party.
  • 20% of employees attend festivities with their colleagues at least once a month.
  • 82% go to bond with co-workers.
  • 11% go specifically for quality time with the boss.
  • 15% of the attendees were all about the office gossip.
  • Men and women were equally likely to attend.
  • Employees aged 25-34 had the highest attendance across all age groups both at Christmas and other work social gatherings.

Tellingly the survey revealed a number of incidents and events where employees’ experiences went from smooth sailing to crash and burn.

  • 16% of those who responded said that they talked negatively or inappropriately about a co-worker or manager.
  • 10% said they had a go at their boss.
  • 10% said they shared a secret or betrayed a confidence about a co-worker.
  • 8% kissed one of their co-workers.
  • 20% admitted that they drank too much and acted unprofessionally.
  • 5% breached a confidence or secret about the company.
  • 4% of workers admitted they regretted their actions at the Christmas party.

Good to let your guard down… a bit

Sometimes letting your guard down in a misty haze of dim lighting and alcohol can actually be a positive. It can break the ice and ultimately break through communication barriers. Some liquid courage can help you raise an issue with a colleague or boss that you may have found difficult to bring up in the cold light of day.

However, there are lines that shouldn’t be crossed and times when the Christmas party can spin out of control. Most of us are level-headed and responsible even if we are a little tipsy, but some people can lose their inhibitions (and their self-control) when they are in party mode. Sometimes, this lack of inhibition just leads to uncomfortable misunderstandings.

Here are some tips for keeping the Christmas party enjoyable, while keeping your job safe and secure!

  • Be prepared

Make sure you have an idea of how you want the night to go. Take time to think about how long you want to be there. If you have a definite end time, stick to it.

  • Eat

Have a mid-afternoon meal so that you are not drinking on an empty stomach.

  • Drinking is not a KPI

Some workplace environments may be incredibly competitive. Avoid the urge to match co-workers drink for drink or shot for shot. If your team is in it for the long haul, or intends to be out all night, alternate the booze with some non-alcoholic drinks.

  • Keep busy

Pick a place with some recreational options, like music or karaoke or dancing. These activities will help you pace your alcohol consumption and burn off some of the booze!

The Christmas work party offers a great opportunity to socialise with colleagues and develop relationships. It’s a wonderful time to mingle with co-workers in a less pressured and more informal setting. It might give you a chance to personally thank those who have been helpful throughout the year. It could even be an opportunity to meet with senior management, either to introduce you or get to know them in a more informal setting.




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