Ahh Christmas, that wonderful time of year when everyone is feeling festive and sociable. Work Christmas socials bring everyone together but also have a tendency of sometimes bringing out some naughty, mischievous or just downright bad behaviour. A few proseccos/jager bombs later (or whatever the tipple of choice may be) and people end up letting their hair and (more often than not) their guard down which can result in some red faced ‘wish the floor would open up’ moments.
Some companies even have a ‘legendary’ story that went down in workplace folklore like the time that Kate from the Wills department drank a little too much and streaked across the football pitch at the venue back in 2005 :D
We thought it’d be fun to bring to you a few festive funnies that we’d read courtesy of ‘Business Insider’ to hopefully raise a smile or two.
"It was the first holiday party my office had hosted in many years. Naturally many employees were eager to take advantage and enjoy the well-earned libations. I was tentative at first, but joined the fray once I saw that upper management was fully committed to the good time, i.e. getting completely hammered. I quickly caught up to the pack, thoroughly enjoying myself and telling many stories, as I am want to do. Unfortunately, I got a little too caught up in the moment and, at the climax of a particular story, swung my arms in the air for emphasis. As I did, my hand hit the bottom of a beer bottle just as my colleague put it to her lips, causing her to hit herself with it. After the initial shock had worn off and she cleaned up the spilled beer on her clothes, she turned to tell me she was OK, and if I wasn't feeling bad enough, my guilt skyrocketed: As she spoke I noticed that her front tooth had broken as a result of the bottle hitting her face. It wasn't completely knocked out, but it was chipped well enough to be unmistakable. I felt completely horrible and informed her of what happened, and she ran to the bathroom to confirm. To her credit, she was slightly embarrassed when she returned but stayed at the party and went out of her way to tell me that it was no big deal. Regardless, I still felt like a jerk the rest of the night. A few days later she went to the dentist and had the tooth fixed, and it was a relief that no permanent damage had occurred. But I won't be telling any more stories at holiday parties for a while."
"I worked as a maintenance facilities man for a large school and foster home for troubled children. I showed up at the work Christmas party that was hosted by the programs nurse. Social anxiety troubled me a lot back then, so before I even knocked on the door I'd drank eight nips of vodka. Within twenty minutes of being there I fell down a full flight of stairs and crashed through their screen door. This happened in front of about twenty coworkers including the program's administration and my immediate supervisors. After apologizing and slurring profusely I told everybody that my ride was out front to pick me up. I hid in the bushes down the street until my significant other picked me up two hours later."
"One year, a coworker and I were about 45 minutes late to the cocktail hour portion of our company's holiday party. Upon our arrival, we noticed a coworker's husband half passed out at a table. He managed to drink so much just in the first 30 minutes of cocktail hour that he vomited in the bathroom and half passed out at a table ... all before cocktail hour even ended. So embarrassing."
‘At my office party at my old company, the CEO thought it would be a fun party game to have everyone submit an embarrassing childhood story ahead of time — no one knew why, but we all did it. Then at the party he had them all printed on pieces of paper, and he had people read them aloud and guess who's story it was. It was incredibly awkward and probably the worst work-party game of all time.
At last year's office party, this 22-year-old kid got drunk and basically cursed me out in front of everyone. He then threw a punch at me. I simply stepped aside and watched him fall over. He ended up breaking his arm, lost a tooth, and lost a job. Police came, but no charges were filed as he didn't make any sort of contact."
"One of my coworkers drank too much and proceeded to hit on our boss. When she got up from the table to walk away, he stood up to follow her, tripped, and split his chin open. The next day he came into work with a busted chin and a bruised ego."
"Two days before my first work Christmas party, a memo came out saying if you were arrested the company would not bail you out of jail. A year before, several people were arrested for doing coke outside the Christmas party. The CEO had to bail them all out of jail."
"I was working freelance last year, and the production company threw a Christmas party at a pub near the office, where there were pong tables set up for flip cup and beer pong.
Everyone had a few drinks, and another — tiny! — freelance producer was sitting on the ping pong table talking to this guy when all of a sudden the table collapses, beer spills everywhere, and she's on the floor of the bar. It's funny because she's so tiny and nobody was really that drunk (and nobody got hurt). But everyone at that production company still talks about it. As do I. It was hilarious."
"I saw a co-worker complain about a recent assignment, then say, 'Don't tell Bruce I was complaining.' She was talking to her boss, Bruce."
"After rolling into the office the morning following my company holiday party, I received the company-wide email blast providing a link to the photo booth gallery. After scrolling through several hours of tame photos, I discovered a series of 25 pictures showing my boss in a progressing state of undress while hooking up with a colleague from a different department. The gallery was removed from public access within the hour, and both photo subjects were sent to HR."
"Some years ago, we had our Christmas party at a local hotel and had some entertainment including a hypnotist. He asked for volunteers, and several people went on stage. He went through the process of hypnotising them and ended up with several people in the state of hypnosis. The hypnotist then told them there was a big pile of hundred-dollar bills in front of them, and they could have all they could carry away. One of our employees immediately pulled her dress up and starting stuffing imaginary money into her tights. Yikes!
He managed to stop her, but not before about 1,000 people looked on in amazement.
She was a good sport about it, and we decided not to hire a hypnotist in the future.
Of course these are all situations where, aside a few blushes and bruised egos, there is no real harm done. There is, however, a more serious side that employers need to be mindful of in case something should go badly wrong at a work function, where an altercation occurs after alcohol has been supplied, which then raises the question of liability.
There was a case Bellman V Northampton Recruitment Ltd which went to the court of appeal. Northampton Recruitment had held their work Christmas party at a golf club and afterwards, some of those who had attended moved on to another venue for an ‘after party’. This included Mr Bellman, a sales manager and Mr Major, the company MD who ended up in an altercation in the early hours which led to Mr Major punching Mr Bellman twice, resulting in a brain injury serious enough that his ability to manage his own affairs was seriously impaired.
The family of Mr Bellman later brought a claim against the company and claimed that it was vicariously liable for the actions of the MD. The High Court found that the company was not responsible for the actions of Mr Major as the after party had no connection to work but the Court of Appeal disagreed stating that Mr Major had been acting in his capacity as MD during the after party, ‘lecturing employees’, and that the drinks, and taxis, to and from the after party, had been paid for by the company even though it was an impromptu gathering and after the main party had ended. The senior position of Mr Major was a significant factor such that Court of Appeal found enough of a connection to his role and the assault was considered to be in the course of his employment, therefore finding the company vicariously liable for Mr Majors actions.
As employers, what can you learn from this?
Whilst of course you want your employees to have a good time as a thank you for their hard work during the year, you really need to consider the impact the arrangements you make may have. I'm sure neither Mr Bellman nor Mr Major anticipated the evening turning out how it did, but it teaches a lesson about what, and how much of the festivities the company pays for. When you are finalising your arrangements for this years' Christmas event, it might be worth a rethink over that generous bar tab...
The bottom line? Encourage your employees to act and drink responsibly and stay safe throughout the festive fun and be clear (without appearing to be scrooge like) over what the potential consequences could be for bad behaviour.
Please note our blog posts contain general information and are intended as guidance only and should not be taken as an authoritative or current interpretation of the law. Please ensure that you obtain advice tailored to your individual situation before taking action. These posts apply to the UK only.