Halloween is a favorite among many workplaces around the country, but be careful: there are many potential haunting career consequences looming around all the fun. Historically, Halloween has been a secular holiday; however, it does have religious roots and pagan symbols that impact clients, customers and colleagues. How can you play it safe?
Here are 10 Halloween tips for leaders looking to celebrate Halloween without the lingering career consequences, according to Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Online:
1. Advance Notice: Clearly communicate costume guidelines in advance via email and workplace postings.
2. Communicate Organizational Culture: We’ve all been reading about the toxic corporate cultures and the corresponding lawsuit settlements. As the holiday season begins, post the culture:
• Halloween is a secular celebration in our organization.
• No one is required to participate. We understand Halloween isn’t universally celebrated.
• Our celebration is all-inclusive. Anyone can participate without pressure.
• Costumes must comply with our dress code, equal employment opportunity (EEO), and diversity policies.
3. Costumes: Encourage workers to use good judgment when deciding what to wear by asking themselves: “How likely am I to offend someone with this costume?” If there’s any doubt, select another costume.
4. What Not to Wear: Identify and prohibit costumes with imitation accessories such as weapons, guns, swords or knives. Identify and ban inappropriate costumes depicting cultural, transgender, pink-slip, black-face, dark-face, ethnic, national origin, racial, religion, mock the human body, or are overly-revealing.
5. Health Organizations: Advise hospital and health organization employees that ghost, graveyard, skeleton, and bloody images are prohibited in health care settings.
6. Politics: Request workers to avoid donning political costumes that could be offensive.
7. Safety: Manufacturing and warehousing industries may prohibit costumes due to safety. Be sure desk and office decorations don’t violate any fire or safety codes.
8. Customers: Consider whether costumes might seem unprofessional on employees who interact with customers.
9. Consideration: For workers offended by Halloween, offer the opportunity to work from home or use a vacation day.
10. Behave Responsibly: Be a leader. Drink responsibly, keep your hands to yourself, and avoid making sexual overtures toward anyone in the workplace.