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One in seven experience unpleasant incidents at the workplace Christmas party

Updated: Dec 14, 2023

Isabella Øllgaard

13.12.2023 - A recent Voxmeter opinion poll commissioned by Alkohol & Samfund reveals that one out of seven Danes who’ve attended workplace Christmas parties experience uncomfortable incidents. Within the last five years, 14% have encountered boundary-crossing behavior at such events where alcohol was consumed. The survey highlights the need for workplaces to take proactive steps to prevent such distressing experiences, which can lead to employee discontent.


The survey defines boundary-crossing behavior as including unwanted sexual advances, demeaning treatment, hurtful remarks, ridicule, unpleasant teasing, and threats. Isabella Øllgaard, a health consultant at Alkohol & Samfund, notes that many Danes face unpleasant experiences at workplace Christmas parties where alcohol is a contributing factor. She emphasizes that workplaces can do a lot to prevent such incidents.


The issue extends beyond Christmas parties. Alkohol & Samfund's June 2023 study, "Alcohol at the Workplace," surveyed leaders, HR managers, and employee representatives from 124 Danish companies about their alcohol culture and related incidents. It found that 93.5% of respondents have alcohol at their company events, and over a quarter have experienced alcohol-related incidents at work. Among these, 41.9% occurred during an event, with 25.8% involving demeaning behavior and threats, and 12.9% involving sexual harassment.


Such incidents lead to significant discomfort, stomach aches, and increased absenteeism among employees. Øllgaard stresses the importance of addressing alcohol consumption at work, as it affects the entire workplace when employees face unpleasant experiences or feel uncomfortable with the way alcohol is consumed.


To foster a better alcohol culture at work, workplaces can take several measures. Øllgaard suggests having a written alcohol policy, clearly communicated to all employees. This policy should set expectations for when and how much alcohol is available at the workplace and encourage employees to consider their alcohol consumption before events. Additionally, setting clear guidelines for events, such as duration and offering non-alcoholic alternatives, can help include all employees, regardless of their drinking habits.


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