It’s that time of the year again when relatively sensible people think it’s okay to have a few drinks and take photocopies of their squashed faces and drop their trousers in public, or more correctly, in front of their work colleagues. That’s right, tis the season for office and workplace festive season parties!
But behind the fun and laughter lies there’s a more serious element to the festive season, as emphasised by the Alcohol and Drug Foundation on their website:
- December is the busiest month for many of us for social gatherings, with work parties, family get-togethers and other social occasions. And it’s also the busiest month for our emergency staff in dealing with incidents involving alcohol.
- It’s not just a festive season phenomenon. Studies have shown that alcohol harm increases over the summer months, because we generally drink more alcohol leading up to Christmas and continue drinking more while the weather is warm.
- Celebrating with alcohol isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but binge drinking (drinking heavily over a short period of time with the intention of getting drunk) can be.
So, what’s the big issue with drinking a lot of alcohol at this time of the year? Isn’t it okay to indulge now, as long as you return to more responsible levels of alcohol consumption once the social gatherings slow down?
The issue is that getting drunk even once can have serious consequences. Physically, you could have an accident, fall down, hurt yourself and even put yourself in hospital or die. You can even die or cause serious damage to yourself without having an accident, simply due to the amount of alcohol you consume. And it’s not just physical damage. You could damage your career – particularly if your drunken episode occurs at a work party – plus friendships and relationships with family members. And, of course, you can be fined and lose your license if you drink and drive, even if you’ve had a lot to drink.
Safe work parties
As with safety at work, having a safe work party is the responsibility of employers and employees.
- Make sure there are plenty of non-alcoholic drinks available.
- Plan alcohol-free activities.
- Serve food from the start of the party to the finish.
- Ensure your guests can get home safely. This might be as simple as having someone at the door encouraging people not to drive if they’ve been drinking and having the phone numbers of taxis available, or it might mean organizing shuttle buses or Ubers for people to get home.
- Don’t be that employee that people talk about for the next month.
- Have a non-alcoholic drink between each drink of alcohol.
- Eat plenty of food.
- Count the number of alcoholic drinks you consume.
- Make sure you’ve planned how you’re going to get home.
Another thing employers can do leading up to the festive season is to run sessions on the risks of alcohol and how to limit this risk. Sometimes the timing of the message can be as important as the message itself and this time of the year is certainly the right time to talk about alcohol.
There are many ways to embarrass yourself at a work festive season party and most begin with alcohol. Credit Ben30 https://www.flickr.com/photos/ben30/2123488812/ and wetwebwork https://www.flickr.com/photos/wetwebwork/2108969374/ (images modified)