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Employee Benefit Views

News You Can Use: Avoiding holiday party disasters

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Posted December 2, 2008 by EBN Editor Kelley M. Butler at 02:00PM. Comments (0)

While the economy may have curtailed holiday merriment to an extent, many offices are still planning smaller get-togethers as celebrations. Unfortunately, without proper planning, these shindigs can turn into potential HR nightmares as "off the clock" employees exhibit behaviors that are less-than-work appropriate.

This week, we'll bring you a podcast from Kathleen Koster, EBN's newest staffer, on how to stage party planning to ensure maximum fun with minimal issues, but in the meantime, we'll be exploring what may be seen as the darker side of an office get-together.

Like the 12 steps to a holiday party seen in this video, colleague's desires to "get loose" may sometimes show less-than-becoming behaviors.

"When alcohol prompts bad behavior at holiday celebrations, that can indicate something more serious is lurking," said Dr. Harris Stratyner, Ph.D., Regional Vice President of Caron Treatment Centers. "From an unstable economy to technology that bombards us with information, the state of the world today only increases vulnerability to holiday alcohol abuse and longer-term problems."

Nearly 70% of U.S. adults participating in at least one holiday party, states new data from Caron, and 64% report having seen inappropriate behavior by persons under the influence of alcohol.
Other survey findings:

58% observed a coworker drive drunk.
49% spotted a coworker flirting with another coworker or supervisor.
47% heard a coworker using excessive profanity.
44% heard a coworker share inappropriate personal details about themselves or other colleagues.

However, when asked for the acceptable number of alcoholic beverages for a person to consume at a workplace holiday party, one third (34%) of the respondents felt that it was acceptable to consume three or more drinks at a work party.

"Social drinking is so interwoven into the fabric of American society that many people fail to recognize it may be the sign of a chronic illness," said Dr. Stratyner. "During the holidays, people are particularly vulnerable to drinking in excess and others are willing to look the other way to keep the atmosphere festive."

However, Stratyner urges coworkers to instead find impaired coworkers transportation home. Such action "is a kind and possibly life-saving gesture," she says. "However, sending someone home in a cab does not change their behavior and is simply not enough. It's important to assess if there is a behavioral issue that needs to be addressed."

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