In addition to incorporating these norms into corporate policies and procedures, there are other important decisions and strategies to consider in an effort to reduce liability and enhance the enjoyment of the event, including:
Purpose: When organizing events, the first consideration is to decide the purpose of the event. If it is for employees, is it a reward for hard work? To build team spirit? To celebrate? If it is for customers or clients, is it to show appreciation? Build new happiness? Defining the purpose of the event can establish a foundation for making other decisions.
Availability: Is it necessary to serve alcoholic beverages? Many companies are choosing to organize office parties, picnics, and other events without serving alcoholic beverages. This decision needs to be weighed against perceptions held by those attending. Many enjoy having a glass of beer, wine, or mixed drink at social occasions to make them feel more comfortable and less inhibited. Will you sacrifice the benefits by eliminating the availability of alcoholic beverages? Can the purpose of the event be achieved?
Venue: Rather than hosting the event on company property, utilize a licensed business or professional caterer. Although the short-term cost may be greater, service could improve and liability could be reduced. When choosing the venue, make sure the business maintains strict policies on responsible beverage service, trains service staff, and works with you on assuring guest safety.
Payment: In the past, open bars throughout events were common. Today, many hosts limit hours of beverage service, provide drink coupons to limit the number or drinks served to each individual, or have cash bars, requiring the guest to pay for their own alcoholic beverages.
Policies: All aspects of the event need to be planned in advance and those attending need to be made aware of policies and controls to enhance the event and promote safety. Invitations should clearly define the purpose of the event, and if alcoholic beverage are to be served, arrangements should be made to control access to underage people and prevent intoxication. For instance, if young people are expected, establish procedures for checking identification, use wristbands, and notify those attending that identification will be checked.
Party Planning Information: A way to reinforce the company's commitment to responsible hospitality is to provide party planning information to employees, especially during holidays and summer. Reinforce responsible drinking and driving messages in paychecks, on bulletin boards and signage.
Employee Assistance Programs: The costs of employee development make replacement of staff much more costly than in the past. Decline in worker performance can often be linked to alcohol abuse problems. Employee Assistance Programs (EAP's) have been shown to be cost effective in addressing declining performance without termination of employees. Every dollar invested in an EAP returns four in savings and increased productivity.