Planning a workplace party is a big responsibility and one that comes with great scrutiny from all interested parties… which is everyone.
Get it right and you will be the hero of the office, remembered for years to come and newly nicknamed as Van Wilder for your party liaison skills. Get it wrong and consequences can range from attendee boredom to serious OHS breaches.
This guide has been created to help you navigate the opportunities and pitfalls of planning a workplace office party. However, it is a guide only and should not substitute professional advice as rules and regulations vary and are updated often.
Planning the event:
The first steps to take when planning a workplace office party should be establishing who is involved in input for the event and who is making the final decision. If everyone is involved in providing input, you will never come to agreement on the details.
Next up, download Be Challenged’s Event Planning Calendar and Checklist and analyse each line item on the checklist. It will help you consider what you do and do not need to do.
Other key things to consider that are specific to a workplace party are:
Establish a Budget: This is one of the first steps you should take, as it will feed every other step of the planning process. There is no point contacting professional caterers or private boat charters if the budget simply is not there.
Identify a theme: What sort of party are you planning? What is the purpose? Is it a Christmas Party? Are you celebrating success? Letting your hair down? Is it designed to motivate? Matching the theme to the purpose and communicating that to attendees helps connect them with the event and each other.
Choose a location and venue: This might seem obvious, but where is your party going to be? How will it tie into the previously identified theme and purpose?
Key things to consider when choosing a location include timings and availability, transport, wet weather options and importantly, whether it meets occupational health and safety requirements (OHS). For example, is there a COVIDsafe Framework in place? Has a risk assessment been done? And is there public liability insurance in place?
OHS: Transport, Alcohol and After Parties:
No matter where it is held, your work party or event will likely be considered a work activity under OHS legislation, meaning you are responsible for the health and safety of employees who attend. This may also extend to their trip home.
It is therefore worth considering OHS practices around serving alcohol and food, sexual harassment, the venue, party finish time and transport home for staff.
Alcohol: Attendees might be disappointed if alcohol is not served at your workplace office party, however it should be done with due care and planning.
Ensure alcohol is served by a dedicated bartender who holds a responsible service of alcohol (RSA) licence. Water consumption should be encouraged, and non-alcoholic drinks made readily available.
If any attendees are under 18, a wristband or identification system will help ensure they are not served alcohol.
Finish Time and After Parties: It is recommended that the workplace office party has a set start and finish time, with workers required to leave the premises at the end, and alcohol made unavailable at least 30 minutes prior to that.
These times should be clearly communicated to attendees along with the fact that anyone who chooses to ‘party on’ after the finish time will be doing so at their own risk.
Transport considerations: Travel to and from an external event is likely to be considered “work” for OHS purposes, so it is recommended you provide attendees with transport home, by way of a bus, taxi or designated driver.
Plan your communications:
As we have seen, there is a lot to juggle when planning a workplace office party. Planning and clearly defined communications are key to ensuring everyone is informed about their responsibilities and how they can make the most out of the event.
With good planning and structured communications, your party will be sure to bring the house down and win you recognition for your project management skills.