December 2014: Holiday Etiquette for the Workplace

In keeping with our annual tradition of our December newsletter addition being more “in the holiday spirit”, I thought I’d share some excerpts from a poll that was taken for “” by Susan Heathfield, a management and organizational development consultant who specializes in HR issues.  She surveyed people about “Top Office Party Blunders You’ve Experienced” and the responses were nothing short of hilarious.  If you need a good lighthearted chuckle, be sure to take a few minutes to read the full article: the meantime, to hold you over, here are some excerpts from her “Top 7 Office Party Gaffes.”

At this time of the year in particular, we’d like to take a minute to extend our sincerest thanks for your trust and confidence in us and in our services this past year.  We look forward to our continued partnership and to a bright and prosperous 2015.  From our entire “Whitaker family” to yours, our wishes for the happiest of holidays and the very best in the coming new year. C>

Top 7 Office Party Gaffes – Don’t Ruin Your Reputation or Career at Your Office Party

The office party during the holidays or any other time of the year is a key professional opportunity to mingle casually with coworkers, impress bosses, and get to know people you don’t see every day. Unfortunately, the office party is also a prime opportunity to ruin your professional reputation, alienate coworkers, and fail to capitalize on networking opportunities. These are seven common office party blunders. Heed them. Some are missed opportunities, but some may cost you your career.

Drink Too Much at the Office Party – Drinking too much at the office party is the most egregious offense.  It’s not just the drinking, though anything excessive is inappropriate at an office party, but the actions that result from over imbibing. If you drink too much at the office party, make amends by apologizing to anyone you may have offended.  Don’t ignore your behavior and hope people didn’t notice or that coworkers will have short memories.  They did and they won’t.  Your behavior will be the talk of the office until something more interesting happens.

Dress Suggestively at the Office Party – Errors in clothing selection for the office party affect coworkers’ opinion of your judgment, credibility and competence. No matter how festive, the office party is a business occasion; professional, not sexy or suggestive, attire should rule the night.  Does this mean you can’t dress up in your favorite party attire?  Not at all.  Just use tasteful discretion in your selection of attire for the office party.

Fail to Attend Without a Good Reason – Your company schedules an office party to reward and recognize employees, to provide an opportunity for team building among coworkers, and to promote coworkers getting to know each other informally. I have heard every possible reason why people don’t attend their office party. The most common reasons involve the office party infringing on their personal family time; a dislike of small-talk and social events, in general; and a genuine family or personal event scheduled at the same time. A couple of hours a year is barely worth a complaint. Let the boss know when a personal commitment precludes your attendance.

Flirt With Coworkers or Their Significant Others at the Office Party – Flirting, especially mixed with alcohol, is unwanted at a business event. It is unwelcome, unexpected, and usually unwanted. At best, it annoys coworkers at an event that is supposed to draw people together and create a stronger team.

Bring Children or Uninvited Guests to the Office Party – Bringing uninvited guests, or your children to an adult party, distracts you from the mission of the office party, adds to your employer’s expense, and may make legitimate attendees miss out on their share of the food, drink, employee gifts and company swag.  Most companies specify the expected attendees, the recommended attire, and the schedule of events in advance of the office party. You usually have all the information you need to comfortably attend your office party if you just read the invitation. Some may even specify that additional guests are welcome – but, most don’t – at significant annual office parties.

Forget That the Office Party Is Still a Company Business Function – The office party is not the time to complain about your boss or your company. It is a time to get to know your coworkers more personally so you can work together more effectively in the future. It is also a chance to chat informally with the bosses and members of departments with whom you don’t work every day. With these goals in mind, watch that you listen as much as you talk; draw out your coworkers.  Leave your company complaints, grievances, off-color jokes, and negativity at home.  In fact, don’t talk about work at all. Talking about work leaves significant others out of the conversation. Know the goals of the function and cooperate to achieve them at the office party.

Be the Last to Leave the Office Party – No matter how much fun you’re having or how much you’re enjoying the band, when you stay too long at the office party, you may have over stayed your welcome. The possibility of drinking too much and committing other gaffes increases with the passing of time. Stay a couple of hours, talk to each coworker and the bosses, then graciously and gracefully excuse yourself. Let your reputation live to attend another office party.

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