Summer is here and it does seem like, in the UK at least, we will be having a good one! (hooray) BUT, whilst people can be that little bit friendlier and more affable when the sun is shining, there may be an increased temptation to lower those inhibitions and relax personal and professional rules on workplace drinking during the summer months.
Workplace harassment and loss of professional integrity aside, one of the potential consequences of this is drink driving, as Mungo Jerry sang ‘Have a drink, have a drive, Go out and see what you can find’.
Campaigns against drink driving have been recirculated annually since the late 1970’s in the UK and it is perceptibly far less socially acceptable than before, despite this, in 2012 there was a 25% rise in drink driving offences in the UK. With glasses of wine getting bigger and beer getting stronger, individuals may over estimate their ability to operate safely the day after a recreational drink or be tempted to have ‘just the one’ at a business lunch then drive home later.
These are relatively straightforward scenarios to deal with, a well communicated, and robustly enforced company policy which, like many, is explicit in a zero tolerance approach to drinking when on company business, whether driving or not, is often deterrent enough, job done.
Hang on though? What about those summer events when as an employer you may actively encourage alcohol consumption? Well now that is a bit confusing, how you do deliver a summer event employees will look forward to without compormising your policy?
The ideal would be not to encourage any alcohol consumption at your summer event however, dependent on your employees this could be seen as a lack of trust or punishing step, so if you can’t have a non alcohol event, here are our tips for a successful and safe summer party;
Ahead of the party you may decide to increase dialogue around drink driving and the company alcohol policy, some employers also issue a statement about responsible drinking and a reminder that rules surrounding conduct also apply at corporate events.
Make the party an active event, this makes drinking more unpalatable and a clear safety no-no for the time spent engaging in the activities. Of course if you are going to do this ensure that the activities are arranged by competent persons and that the risks are well managed.
Feed them! and provide lots of alcohol free alternatives (food should not be a replacement for drinking responsibly, but food does slow the absorption of alcohol and helps fill people up, making it less likely that they will drink to excess).
If you are going to allow alcohol, plan certain activities or games to entertain. This will reduce idle time drinking. Plan a secret squirrel prize exchange for small team gatherings, or play interesting or fun games that give employees something to look forward to besides their next drink.
If you can stretch to it, provide transport and ensure that employees do not need to drive the next day on business.
The Golden Rule! Hosts must stay sober. Employers will remain responsible for their employees and their safety, staying sober is the only way hosts can accurately determine if an employee’s conduct is overstepping the mark, if they are capable of driving or need a taxi home.