Halloween, celebrated each year on October 31, is a mix of ancient Celtic practices, Catholic and Roman religious rituals and European folk traditions that blended together over time to create the holiday we know today with trick-or-treating, attending costume parties, carving jack-o’-lanterns, haunted attractions, telling scary stories and watching horror movies. By marking the change between fall and winter, paucity rich harvest or bad as well as life and death, Halloween is a time of celebration and superstition.
Although Halloween is not a holiday observed as one with time off in the workplace, it has certainly become popular for purposes of improving workplace motivation. According to survey data released in 2007 by Vault.com Inc., 37% of employees say they celebrate the holiday with their co-workers and 27% dress up in costume. It has also been stated that Halloween is the second most popular holiday after Christmas and that celebrating it in the workplace “appeals to the child in each of us and helps create a motivational, team work-oriented work culture.”
Of course, on-the-job masquerades are more appropriate for some workplaces than others. For some industries, such as manufacturing and warehousing, costume wearing can jeopardize safety. Other industries such as hospitals don’t allow professionalism to slip for even a day, fearing that masks or costumes might alarm patients. And in banking, there’s two rules; no masks and no toy guns.
If you’re thinking about a Halloween bash at work this year, there are lots of great ideas for celebrating that include decorating the workplace, baking Halloween-themed cookies and desserts, and holding a costume and pumpkin carving contests. However, here are a few tips that you want to be sure to also consider if it’s a workplace celebration.
- Make it Optional. Make sure that you clearly inform your employees that Halloween festivities including costume wearing are optional and not required. If any employee complains about the festivities because of religious beliefs, make sure they understand that it’s optional. If they really find it offensive, recommend to them that they take either a vacation day or unpaid one day leave.
- No Alcohol on Company Property. We’re pretty sure you already know this. However, let us re-explain that drinking on company premises is always a bad idea due to such things as: a premises liability lawsuit when a guest (if guests are invited to your Halloween party) falls on your property or upon leaving your facility, causes a car acciddent after having a few too many drinks, a workers’ compensation claim when an employee injures themselves after drinking too much, and a sexual harassment claim when someone says and/or does something inappropriate while they are drinking.
- Set Some Guidelines on Costume Wearing. Although one would like to think that we all have “common-sense” and decent judgment, many people don’t. It may be a good idea to remind employees that it’s a company party and costumes such as exaggerated body parts, body revealing, and anything political, religious or ethnic are not appropriate for a workplace gathering.
Especially for these days when our lives are fraught with all sorts of economic problems, Halloween can be a great time for company-related activities for building camaraderie, teamwork and alleviating workplace stress. However, plan it wisely. HAPPY HALLOWEEN.