‘Tis the season for tidings of joy and Christmas cheer and of course, the office holiday parties. Office parties are a great way to bond the troops, celebrate the year’s accomplishments and to let your hair down. But before you loosen your bun, stop and pause for a moment and think twice about what you do for jollies. Keep in mind, that you are still on company time and as such you are expected to act professionally.
I have to admit, writing this blog post actually bums me out. I grew up in a corporate era riddled with wild behavior and I look back on those days with some degree of fondness and nostalgia. I now understand why older generations refer to the past as the “good ‘ole days.” If you are my age or older you know exactly what I mean, as it was a time of harmless fun – FUN being the operative word. For that one night a year, we threw caution to the wind and behaved like children. We danced and drank and flirted - you heard me correctly, we flirted; something you can no longer do today in a corporate setting.
As we prepare for these year-end parties, it would be irresponsible of me if I didn’t provide you with the parental warning to watch your Ps and Qs. Remember that we live in a different time now with a new set of expectations and little to no tolerance for misconduct. When I worked in HR, at least half a dozen people would be fired after the office holiday party each year. It was a time when Wall Street was transitioning from its hey-day of raucous behavior to a more mature and civilized disposition. The industry was growing up. Today, for the most part, everyone behaves like adults. Boring, but necessary, I suppose.
It is important to remind everyone that not only have the rules of social behaviors changed, so has technology. Everyone has camera phones so you can be sure that any hint of misbehavin’ will be forever memorialized on video or worse yet, on the internet. That is something, I can promise, your company will not be cool with. So be careful about that. I also realize that whenever alcohol is involved, judgement becomes clouded and certain behaviors may seem like grey areas. Let me just outline some boundaries in case you are unclear as to what behaviors may or may not be acceptable.
Dress code: Show up with more than just bells on, it is still a company event, so don’t dress too risqué. While you may wish to come to the office party dressed as Santa, which is perfectly fine, try to refrain from asking the women of the office to sit on Santa’s lap. I can guarantee that will not go over well.
Bathroom etiquette: No matter how long the line is, don’t use the bathroom of the opposite sex, it could lead to a very uncomfortable confrontation with your co-workers. Another bathroom faux pas is smoking weed. Don’t do that. And of course hooking up with colleagues is also out of the question - but in the case you do, try and be discrete and don’t come to the office the next day wearing the same clothes. That’s usually an obvious giveaway.
Curb your drink: Don’t spike the holiday punch; that could lead to a catastrophe ending up in litigation. Be careful about how much you drink and if you have a low tolerance be sure and eat. You don’t want to hurl on your boss’s shoes – that’ll throw your promotion out the window.
All kidding aside, and yes I was being snarky, but as you troll the ancient Yule-tide carol, let decorum be your guiding light this corporate holiday season.
Merry Christmas, I mean Happy Holidays!