Too much information

The likes of Frank Furedi and others who enjoy pointing out that we live in a ‘safety obsessed society’ will surely be picking up on this story.

Companies have been urged to make sure their staff do not injure themselves at office Christmas parties by dancing on desks or photocopying themselves.

Managers have even been advised not to put up any mistletoe in case it encourages sexual harassment.

The warnings come from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) and the TUC, which have published a Christmas party checklist.

A Christmas party checklist. That certainly seems to add some weight to Furedi’s argument. But perhaps there is something else behind this:

A separate report has said that festive hangovers could cost UK firms £65m.

Research for Norwich Union Healthcare estimated that up to £65m worth of working hours will be lost due to staff taking time off to recover from their Christmas party excesses.

Do we live in a safety obsessed society or in fact a research and report obsessed society?

How much do companies miss out on by workers sneaking off early to go to midweek football matches (the number of which have risen alarmingly in the past decade according to a recent study?).

What about birthday bashes? In a busy office you could have over 20 birthday booze-ups in a year with resulting hangovers and an inevitable impact on productivity.

You could go on and on. And indeed, with companies fully aware that these reports get picked up by the media with resulting publicity, (did someone mention Norwich Union?) I suspect we will go on and on.

Anyway as for office Christmas parties, I am boycotting ours as usual. Why spend time pretending to enjoy the company of the Head of Human Resources? Why force myself to clink glasses with people I haven’t shared a drink with all year? Do I need to listen to another speech about the ‘challenges’ of the year ahead?

Nick Goulding, chief executive of private business lobby group the Forum of Private Business, said: “The purpose of Christmas parties is to encourage team spirit, encourage relationships and so on.

“If you tie them down with pettifogging regulations, you really undermine the whole thing you are trying to achieve. It is like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.”

It’s words like that which make sure I’ll be having a Christmas drink with those collegues whose company I enjoy rather than doing the forced bonhomie thing.

As usual a few of us will go to the pub and engage in that greatest workplace bonding activity of all – slagging the place off.

Hat Tip: The Tinbasher.