Though I am an adult, I love dressing up on Halloween. To be honest, I relish any excuse to put on a costume. I’m the friend who begs you to have a themed birthday party so I can wear a feather boa or pirate eye patch without feeling ashamed.
Halloween can be a lot of fun, but it can also cause some potential problems in the workplace. No one wants to see their boss in a hula skirt and coconut bra. HR professionals can avoid a lot of hassle by planning and creating specific Halloween policies.
Be ready for conflicting opinions
You’re not likely to get a consensus on how your employees feel about Halloween. There may be people begging for a party while others find the holiday offensive. Prepare yourself for the mix of opinions that you will likely be confronted with. Regardless of what you decide, I wouldn’t make participation mandatory. Forcing your employees into clown wigs will not make for a happy staff.
Make costume guidelines that match the culture of your company
If you work for a company that has happy hour on Fridays, dressing up for Halloween is probably encouraged. If you work in a very serious corporate environment that has client meetings all day, you might decide that dressing up would be a distraction. Whether or not to allow costumes depends entirely on your company’s culture. If you do allow employees to dress up, make guidelines for them to follow.
I used to teach Mommy and Me classes. Dressing up was encouraged for the entire week of Halloween. I came in the first day dressed as a fairy, ready to teach my one year olds. It seemed like a safe costume choice for the audience, but one look at my blue wig, crazy eye makeup and gigantic wings made all twelve babies begin hysterical crying. Later in the week when I dressed like a lion, my four year olds loved it. Your costume guidelines should consider who your employees are and what they will be doing.
Decide whether or not to include families
Nothing is cuter than a baby dressed as a tiny owl. Or a toddler in a pumpkin costume. Or a child dressed like a cowgirl. Basically, any small person in any sort of costume is sure to be adorable. Working parents might want to show off their little elephants and California rolls (which is what my nephew and niece wore their first Halloween). You have to decide whether or not to allow children in the workplace.
Some offices allow their employees to bring their kids for some cubicle to cubicle trick-or-treating. Let your employees know whether or not their families can be included in Halloween celebrations. Again, your company’s culture and business practices will be a huge factor in whether or not this is appropriate. Though children in costumes are sweet, they also might be distracting. Some employees might not want to be interrupted with trick-or-treaters when they are trying to work.
Personally, I will come to work on October 31st in an appropriate costume (any suggestions are welcome). However, I won’t judge my peers that choose to dress in their normal clothes. Halloween is subjective, so though I find it delightful, I don’t expect you to. Even if I am the only person dressed up, I’ll wear my costume with pride. It can’t be worse than the year that I worked a ten hour shift at a hotel only realize when I got home that my wings were on upside down the entire time.
Photo credit iStockphoto
About the author: Erin Palmer works with Villanova University on programs such as Masters in Human Resources. She happily writes for a living and enjoys mentioning that fact to people who think that Writing and English majors will never find a job. She loves to meet new people, so reach out to her on Twitter @Erin_E_Palmer.