How to Avoid Office Halloween HorrorsAdmin
According to the Halloween Industry Association, over 179 million Americans are planning to take part in some type of Halloween festivities this year. Many schools and employers have adjusted their policies on costumes in an effort to be more inclusive and to avoid unrest during a tumultuous political time. If you happen to work for an employer who still embraces the notion of costumes in the office, you may be elated or completely mortified by the idea. (Can you imagine how all those poor people who are afraid of clowns are going to feel this year?) Regardless of your opinions about it, you may find yourself having to endure a workplace Halloween celebration. Here are a few ways you can survive one of HR’s most stressful holidays.
Remember that not everyone celebrates it
If you’re one of those people that start planning your Halloween costume in March because you’re so enthusiastic about it, remember that not everyone feels that way. Halloween is a blast for people who celebrate it. In an office setting, those who don’t choose to participate in the festivities may feel alienated, or even discriminated against. For example, Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t celebrate any holidays or even birthdays. Many Muslims and Orthodox Jews do not celebrate Halloween because of its ties to other religions and symbols. Others simply prefer a separation of work and play and choose not to blur those lines. If a co-worker chooses not to participate in the office costume party, don’t judge them or make them feel badly about it. Besides creating hostility in the workplace, you can open yourself and your employer up to legal disputes if an individual believes they are being discriminated against. Your employer should have policies and practices in place to guard against any legal or ethical ramifications. As a member of the team, you can do your part to avoid awkwardness by being tolerant and allowing everyone in the organization the right to participate or not.
Just say no to controversial costumes
A blog posting on HalloweenCostumes.com noted that religion and politics are two of the most common costume themes that can get you in trouble at work. Abstain from wearing a costume that could potentially be offensive to someone’s religious or political beliefs. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) cautions against costumes that depict other cultures or religions, such as Native Americans, priests or nuns. They may be considered disrespectful and inadvertently cause offense. To be safe, choose a costume that could be appropriate for any age-group or affiliation. Pinterest offers some options for office-appropriate costumes. If you’re unsure if a costume idea you have will be cause for controversy, don’t risk it.
Refer to your company’s dress code policy
When you’re considering your costume choice for the office, your company’s existing dress code can be a helpful guide. A revealing Red Riding Hood or Cave Man costume that shows a lot of skin is fine for a bar or a private Halloween party, but not for the office if it violates the polices that your company adheres to on a regular basis with regard to dress and appearance. Organizations have dress codes in place in order to help employees work comfortably and safely, while projecting a professional image to the community. If you work directly with clients, you should definitely be cautious about your choice of costume so as not to affect our company’s brand and image in the community.
Suggest alternative celebration options
If you have any input into how your company observes holidays, you can propose alternatives to a costume party that may be more inclusive, and less likely to cause discomfort in an office setting. The idea of a harvest festival focuses more on the changing of the seasons and fall food options as opposed to anything costume-related. Decorating or painting pumpkins, as well as other seasonal craft ideas are a great way to have a little fun as a team without the potential awkwardness that can come from trying to choose an office-appropriate costume. A potluck luncheon also gives everyone the opportunity to participate and enjoy a little break from the daily grind. Another SHRM article also suggests combining Halloween celebrations into a charitable opportunity to give back to the community. For example, employees could be allowed to wear a costume if they make a donation to a local charity, such as an animal shelter or local food bank that could then be matched by the employer.
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