Do’s and don’ts of bringing Halloween into the workplace
Halloween reminds us of the dangers that lurk when mixing work and pleasure together in U.S. business. This is why during the holiday season, there is a need for a balance between productivity and company morale. What do business owners and employees need to remember ahead of October 31?
Sharon Schweitzer, an international business etiquette and modern manners expert, who is founder of the firm Access to Culture, offers these tips:
Respect Non-Participation: If coworkers avoid eye contact, decline to wear a costume, or shut doors, honor their decision and avoid interrupting unless it’s work-related. If you must knock, keep it short and sweet because colleagues may dislike Halloween. Read the mood.
Hibernate Politely: If you aren’t participating and don’t wish to be disturbed because you’re rolled up to your ears in tape, place a “Please don’t disturb” sign in your workspace. If you’re participating after 5:00 pm, let your colleagues know that too.
Avoid Unconscious Bias: Unconscious bias can influence behavior and reinforce stereotypes without intention. Before committing to this year’s Halloween costume, ask these questions to uncover any unconscious bias:
• Does my costume represent another culture? If so, what positive or negative associations might be involved?
• How might someone else perceive my costume? Could it possibly offend someone?
• Why am I wearing the costume I chose? Why is it important to me?
• Is my costume inappropriate for the workplace? If so, it may be inappropriate in your social circles as well.
Follow Other Rules of Dress Code: Stay in line with the organization’s dress code and Halloween guidelines. The dress code doesn’t disappear when the holidays arrive. Keep it classy. Avoid skimpy, sensual, gruesome, and/or offensive costumes that damage personal brand as well as company image.
Discrete Party Locations: If you wish to be the haunt in Halloween, try hosting a gathering in a secluded spot away from the work environment such as the break room, cafeteria, or outdoor courtyard.
Decorations: Decorate work spaces in good taste. Be creative with pumpkins, squash, corn and leaves. Hang children’s artwork. Avoid creating obstacles or jeopardizing safety caused by poor decor placement. Think twice about how far you really want to go in waiting rooms and other areas that customers will see.
Treat yo Tricksters: Collaborate with colleagues to create a participant celebration list. Survey the crowd about tree nut, dairy, gluten or other allergies before purchasing treats. Stock up on a variety of non-allergenic desk candies or organize a potluck.