Skip to main content

These Costumes Should Scare Employers

Halloween is only a few weeks away. Oh, the candy, the decorations, the costumes. It's a great time of year. Oh, and don't forget the pumpkin pie!

But if you're an HR manager, Halloween probably sends a few shivers down your spine. Should we have a Halloween party? Should we let employees wear costumes? Will we put "The Monster Mash" and "Thriller" on repeat play? What if a religious employee frowns on a Halloween party? But if we don't do anything for Halloween, will employees think management doesn't know how to have fun? Will we kill employee morale if we skip the candy corn? Keep in mind that the U.S. midterm elections fall a few days after Halloween this year. Politics could be on employees' minds even more than usual.

With many employees doing the jobs or two or three people, however, it's not a bad idea to let them have a little bit of Halloween fun. But where do you draw the line? The hardest part for employers is mixing a party atmosphere with the need to stay professional. Setting boundaries can be a hair-raising challenge.

I touched on this topic in a post last October. I even mentioned some of the costumes that could pose a problem for employers. But that list is so 2009. It's time for an update.

So without further ado, here are a few costumes employees could be wearing to work later this month unless you set some guidelines (and you have, haven't you?):

Christine O'Donnell -- From her "I am not a witch!" TV ad to her comments about masturbation, this costume could leave employers in need of a cold shower -- or at the very least, a few Ibuprofen.

Lindsay Lohan -- Do you really want the Hollywood bad girl in an orange jump suit greeting clients? What would customers think of the "f*&^ you" manicure?

Lady Gaga -- She's a very hot costume this year. She's even selling costumes on her website. Get ready for tin can hair!

Tiger Woods -- Oh, that long list of mistresses. All the good jokes to be told around the office! Think of it as a little sexual harassment on the back nine.

The Cigar Guy from the Tiger Woods video -- He's gone viral and he's everywhere! Some employee somewhere is going to dress like him for Halloween. Will a racial discrimination complaint follow?

Flo, the Progressive Insurance Lady -- She's perky and platonic, so what's the problem? Well, the marketing department might not like seeing another company promoted on work time. Probably not as funny if worn in a State Farm or Allstate office.

The Jersey Shore gang -- These costumes are popular this year, too. But could The Situation create some situations during work hours that you'd rather fugeddabout?

TLC's Polygamy family -- This costume theme could leave employers with three or four times the headache.

Mel Gibson -- "You should just f*&^ing smile and blow me!" Do I really need to say anything more?

Ke$ha -- The first time the employee tells customers she likes to brush her teeth with a bottle of Jack, let's just say they won't be coming back.

Joan Holloway from Mad Men-- Ahh, Mad Men! The wonderfully-written TV show that's based in an office! How could this costume miss? Let me think about it while I stuff my shirt with a whole sock drawer. Bonus points if this costume is worn by a male employee.

Don Draper from Mad Men
-- Handsome Don Draper's 1960s skirt chasing, "pour me a drink, lady" attitude is sexy on television but in today's office climate...well, not so much. Especially if your office Don Draper looks less like Jon Hamm and more like John Boehner.

Vampires -- The True Blood and Twilight series have put vampires on the pop culture radar, but it's all fun and games until somebody punctures a neck.

Michael Jackson -- Don't be surprised if you see The Gloved One moonwalking across the conference room. Young MJ is cool, but older MJ could make some co-workers uncomfortable.

Rick Sanchez -- He tells you the Jews control the media and then he pretends to taser your ass. HR, welcome to your nightmare.

All hail the Bielin-- This photo is burning up the Internets, too. Would customers get this costume, though? Or would an employee who supports the Tea Party bitch all day long about management allowing the employee to wear it?

Speaking of the Tea Party -- Tea Bags hanging from hats. Employees arguing about states rights and the national debt instead of working. Good times.

Glenn Beck -- Just imagine this employee giving long-winded, nonsensical lectures and crying on command all day long. Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell, no!

Rachel Maddow -- Would dressing up as MSNBC's liberal show host include wisecracks about gays and lesbians? The last thing your company needs right now is a hostile work environment claim or even the perception that management tolerates intolerance.

The Painful Tattoo Lady --- Listening to a co-worker yell "OOOOOWWWWWWWWWWW! OKAY! OKAY! OKAY!" all day long would be sort of distracting, no?

John Edwards --- He seems like ancient history in our lightening-fast media culture, but the case is heating up again. Besides, making fun of his hair never gets old.

Katy Perry -- Daisy Dukes and bikinis on top might melt your popsicle but it doesn't work at the office. I bet the employee could sing way better than Katy Perry, though.

Of course, employees worried about keeping their jobs may not want to take the risk of wearing a costume to work. But even the smartest people can do dumb things, so some general costume guidelines are still worth the effort. Whatever your company chooses to do, have fun and stay safe!


Popular posts from this blog

Seven tips for dealing with a jealous coworker

Look at you, doing so well at work! We're so happy for you. Well, most of us are happy for you and refuse to spend the entire work day talking behind your back. Let's talk about how to handle our jealous co-workers!Like every other professional, you've no doubt experienced your share of failures and successes. Lately, however, things seem to be going your way at work. And how! Perhaps you've managed to ace an important project this quarter, been instrumental in landing a huge client, earned some well-deserved rewards for this and that, or -- egads! -- been given a slight promotion or additional work responsibilities (e.g., the work responsibilities you actually want).You're quietly chuffed, but somehow your co-workers seem none too pleased with this rapid turn of events. Oh no, what should you do now?It's a workplace tale older than the disjointed last season of Mad Men. The playing field in the department was even, cozy and overall very friendly -- until so-an…

Employees Blame Technology For Slowing Them Down At Work

Do you feel like you're always working, but never getting very much done? If so, you're not alone. Too much technology, and too much red tape, keep slowing us down at work. But technology, and more of it, is supposed to make our lives easier! Too much technology, however, does not compute for employees. A new SAP/Knowledge@Wharton survey of almost 700 corporate employees finds a full 60% of respondents blame technology "for inhibiting their ability to meet strategic goals." Gee, anyone who has ever used the self-checkout line at the grocery store can tell you that. However, 40% surveyed said that looking for ways to simplify the technology has been "a low priority" for their company. Too much paperwork is an on-going problem for the workplace, too. A new ServiceNow survey of nearly 1,000 managers finds that 90% are doing too much administrative work, no matter the size of the company. This paperwork includes filling out forms, writing status updates, …

Is Your Co-worker Always Late For Work?

You've started the workday, but where is your co-worker? Oh, she's running late again, just like yesterday. And the day before. And the day before that. Let's get an early start on solving her tardiness problem, shall we? Working with someone who is consistently late is one of the most annoying aspects of office life, and also one of the most common, unfortunately. It's a universal theme of the workplace that everyone will get to work on time (give or take a few minutes...) except for the employee who is egregiously late nearly every day. And the excuses can get pretty amazing. Employees became more punctual as the Great Recession lingered, at least according to surveys. Everyone, that is, except for your able-bodied but habitually-tardy co-worker. It's bad enough dealing with tardiness when you're a manager, but it can be even more frustrating when you're a rank-and-file peer without any magical "shape up or ship out" managerial powers. So you…