The CEO Poll: On the common-sense Christmas party

According to business leaders, the holiday shindigs are well-behaved affairs.

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The holiday season provides news media with the opportunity to provide easy filler stories about corporate parties — cautionary tales of employees drinking too much and making damaging career moves, along with advice from experts on proper comportment. A recent web survey of Canadian CEOs and business leaders conducted by Compas Inc. shows that such advice is largely unnecessary, however.

When asked to characterize how badly employees have behaved at holiday parties and similar functions, almost half (43%) of the 122 CEOs polled said employees have never acted inappropriately, while another 33% answered “not really.”

“Common sense should be the rule for behavior at Christmas and other parties,” wrote one respondent. Although rare, common sense is not such a common commodity at parties. A small minority of CEOs (4%) said employees have definitely acted inappropriately. “Restricting free liquor is a good idea,” suggested the same CEO.

Only 7% of those polled have written guidelines for conduct at corporate functions. The overwhelming majority (88%) have no such rules in place at their companies, given the relatively tame and professional demeanor of employees at parties. “Employees know exactly how to behave from the way our company conducts its business,” wrote one respondent. “If you have written rules, there is something wrong with your company.”