Halloween in the Office. Where Should HR Draw the Line?



I have seen it all when it comes to Halloween in the office. From nothing to all out costume and Halloween Parties with drunken pirates and everything in-between. So, what should HR allow and where is the line in the sand?

So, let’s start with your actual work environment. Here are a few quick questions to ask:

Are customers or clients regularly on-site or are you sheltered from contact?

Are you an office or factory/warehouse environment?

What impact if any does wearing a costume have on your business?

How about folks who don’t celebrate or believe Halloween is something for the office?

And finally, how do you do a Halloween activity that is inclusive and doesn’t offend any particular group of individuals?

Okay, for most folks the answers do not inhibit doing some basic holiday dress up or activities. If they do, you should communicate this to employees at least a few days ahead of time.

However, you might have a small group that doesn’t think it’s appropriate, or may even find it to be offensive. Don’t ignore this.  Rather, acknowledge it by stating that it’s optional and provide the rules for the day.

For most organizations here are a few suggested guidelines:

Costumes are okay, but refrain from too much flesh, too scary a costume (let’s just add clowns to the no-go on costumes this year), or anything that might be political.

Make sure the costumes do not create any type of safety issue.

Skip the alcohol; however, apple cider, apple dunking, candy and cookies are for the most part okay.

Let folks know it’s not required, simply optional. Provide a specific area to do activities and costume judging, too.

Keep the ornaments to a specific area of your facility (lunch room or break areas) and keep them fairly generic and festive to the time of year. Pumpkins, corn on the cob, fall leaves, etc.

Costume contests can be a great team building activity, especially if you make it a team costume contest. Think about creative prizes such as comp time or Fitbits (to work the candy off). Also, make sure your marketing and talent folks take lots of pictures as this could be a great employee branding photo opportunity.

Tell folks that it is not a day off in the office, but set aside time for a group activity for those interested.

I will be dressing up as a ghost this year (I bet you won’t even see me!).  I know folks think I am more the pirate type, but Johnny Depp has that covered…

What are you wearing? Inquiring minds would like to know….



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