There’s a thin line every manager must walk between being a boss that people respect and being a leader who wants their employees to enjoy their job. Work parties tend to sway on the side of ‘fun boss’, but it doesn’t mean the manager can totally let his or her hair down either.

Parties for employees are an important way for everyone to get to know each other better and to let off some steam, so here are a few tips on maintaining professionalism at such events, without compromising on the fun.

Timing is everything

Book your work parties well in advance so that as many employees as possible will be able to attend – if you leave it too late, many will have other plans.

Try to organise work events for Friday nights. Many managers choose week nights for parties in the hopes that it will mean employees will remain professional and not stay out too late because they have work the next morning, but this simply often ends in tired, hungover, or even absent staff the next day.

Ensure professionalism in other ways and avoid losing a full day of productivity in the workplace by hosting it on a Friday (or even a Saturday).

Never forget the food

Any function with alcohol involved also requires plenty of free water, as well as non-alcoholic options and low-alcohol options. Plus, food is an absolute must.

Cheese and crackers are not substantial enough to serve with alcohol, especially if you are hosting a work party right after everyone clocks off for the day, as they will likely be hungry and ready for dinner.

Either bring in a caterer, go out for a meal, or opt for affordable meals you can simply bring to the workplace.

Invite significant others

There are many great reasons to invite the partners and spouses of your employees to a work event. For starters, it will give everyone some fresh faces to talk to, and help ensure the talk of the evening doesn’t always centre around the usual work stories and complaints. It will also help everyone get to know each other better and strengthen the bonds between colleagues.

But the main reason to bring a significant other to a work party – from the point of view of a manager, at least – is that it can help keep your employees on their best behaviour. With their own partners, and those of others, in attendance, they may be less likely to drink to excess or stay later than necessary. This is especially true if you invite children as well, although this will depend on the event itself as it won’t always be appropriate.

Parties need end times

Make sure all guests, and any hospitality staff working during the event, know about a set end time to the party.

You could organise transport, such as a bus or several taxis, to arrive at a certain time to ferry people home, or you could cut off the bar tab at a certain hour to encourage people to move on. Warning people in advance of the end time will make it a smoother process when you wrap it up.