The pitfalls of the office party

The pitfalls of the office party

Nov 29, 2016

If it’s not on social media it hasn’t happened; a common belief among avid social-media users. But not every memorable experience deserves an Instagram video – especially if it is of you dancing on the table at your staff party, or taking on that infuriating colleague who has been working on your nerves all year.

Social media practitioners and labour lawyers warn that the embarrassment of being immortalised online could be just the beginning of your troubles as companies continue to test the parameters of labour law in relation to social-media use.

According to labour lawyer Terry Bell, employees would be liable for damages if they defamed their company in any way.

“And disciplinary action can be undertaken based on company rules,” said Bell.

Employees might see staff functions as an opportunity to let their hair down but they should remember that companies are not likely to forgive those who damage corporate reputations.

“At Christmas parties employees sometimes let more than their hair down and they should be very careful about what they put on social media,” said Bell.

Recruitment specialist Auguste Coetzer of Taleng Africa said the tone should to be set by companies.

Coetzer said companies should take stock and establish the objectives of the party and whether it should take place at all, adding that awards ceremonies might create division.

“If broad recognition of team success is crucial, the firm will avoid the mistake of combining the occasion with a prize-giving for exceptional performers. You can’t celebrate everyone and reward a few stellar achievers at the same event,” he said.

Coetzer said companies should not be afraid to warn employees about company policy on social media.

Head of corporate and experiential events at Event Affairs Megan Mcilrath said it was important to thank employees for a great year and not leave social media education to the eve of an event.

“It’s important that companies entrench a social-media and general behaviour policy so that at any stage employees know what is and what isn’t allowed regarding social media,” said Mcilrath.

Social-media consultant Sheena Kretzmer said companies and employees should be prepared for the fallout of staff parties in a social-media age in which live video blogging is the norm.

By Shenaaz Jamal for www.timeslive.co.za