Alcohol! What an incredibly dangerous indulgence and soo unpredictable. I mean, is it going to make me super happy, bubbly and want to dance all night? Am I going to get all emotional and cry? Or worse, is it going to give me that liquid courage to make a stupid stupid decision? Who knows!!
Based on the calls I have received in the past fortnight, alcohol has done a number on a very sad and sorry bunch of employees at this years Christmas function. As a HR professional, I always give advice to businesses on how to take the appropriate preventative measures, and what to do in the event that someone ignores them! But, after quite a few calls this month with some doozy's, I have decided to flip this notion on it's head and take another approach.
A frustration of this situation is that humans are an inexact science and their behaviours are unpredictable. Add alcohol, a year of hard work leaving them all a little fatigued and treating this event as a 'let loose' kind of scenario, and we get TROUBLE! So, if everything goes out the window with a few special juices, the friendly 'drink responsibly, organise transport home and conduct yourself in a professional manner' email isn't really helping the collateral damage the situation has created.
I think it is time to go Def-con 5 on our employees and give them a glimpse into the future of the incidental outcomes - beyond the professional reprimand!
1. FINALLY TELLING THAT ANNOYING COLLEAGUE WHAT YOU THINK OF THEM
Cool, you finally did it! Off your chest. Now, walk past them in the lunch room on Monday. No sweat! Attend a team meeting with them without it being awkward and uncomfortable. Sure thing! Collaborate with them on a delegated work project. Awesome! Not to mention the collateral divide made up of additional colleagues taking sides. You may end up with more enemies than you bargained for! If you are cool with all of this, by all means, go ahead. Likelihood, zero! Don't poop where you eat.
2. THE FLIRTY TEXT MESSAGE
I am talking to adults here, so this one should be super unnecessary to explain, but here goes.
IT IS IN WRITING PEOPLE!!! That does not go away, it is not a conversation you can say never happened, IT STAYS! What if they don't respond the way that you want? You got it, you are back in the lunch room with them and there is nothing more sobering and disappointing than to face an unrequited advance! Not to mention if they make a complaint about it! Despite the lingering sexual harassment case, it is just awkward as hell. Obviously the same goes for a face to face or even worse, a physical advance. JUST DON'T DO THIS, capeesh?
3. FINALLY STICKING IT TO THE MAN
Seriously? Do you want to keep your job, or is this your resignation? Because if it isn't, suppress your liquid courage and keep your head down. You may think, or even be, a better performer than you boss, but highlighting that in an unprofessional manner whilst slurring your words does not get you a promotion, sorry to say, it usually works in the reverse, not to mention you could lose the respect of your colleagues. You will regret this, no question!
Ultimately, the responsibility and fear of consequence needs to be embedded with the staff. If you know that you are guilty of bad behaviour under the influence of alcohol, don't drink. It is not a requirement, and the temporary enjoyment could lead to long term pain. If you are fever pitch pissed at your colleague and you know you're going to unleash, remove yourself from the situation. We are all grown ups. We are employed, drive cars and wipe our own butts, it's about time we all start to realise that, we too, have control over our behaviour and alcohol is not a scape goat.
This help may be all a little too late for some, but for anyone celebrating the year end tomorrow night, heed this warning. Your job may depend on it!