Skip to main content

When Your Workplace Is Too Professional For Fun

I hope you get to have a little bit of Halloween fun at work today. After the crazy year we've had, we deserve it!

But what if your employer doesn't "do" Halloween? A new survey finds roughly 70% of employees surveyed celebrate Halloween at work by wearing a costume, bringing food and/or having a party.

However, more than one-quarter of employees surveyed (28%) work for employers who do not let them celebrate Halloween at work. So much for your super-cool roller ghost costume, right?


While you were walking into the office this morning dressed like the Oscar Mayer wiener, chances were good that an employee working for another company saw you and wished their employer would let them wear a costume, too!

Most business articles discuss the HR risks of offensive Halloween costumes, but what are the risks of not allowing employees to celebrate Halloween -- or any other holiday, for that matter -- in the name of "professionalism"? This is the office that won't tolerate any sort of celebratory distraction, whether it's employee birthdays, major holidays or any other, random milestone. Employees are there to work, not to play! They can celebrate things on their own time, off-site.

What's going on with the workplace that won't allow employees to celebrate at work? Most likely, management views Halloween -- and other holidays -- as a big distraction to overall productivity. Perhaps an employee complained years ago about a co-worker's offensive way of celebrating, and management decided that workplace celebrations are too much of a legal risk.

Congratulations, your workplace has become like today's playgrounds, where the fun stuff has disappeared. Goodbye, tall teeter totters and big, fabulous merry-go-rounds. All we're left with now are three-foot high monkey bars and one short, boring slide. And don't you dare think about climbing up the slide, either!

Sigh. It's so easy to lose our sense of fun. We have to work at it now. The workplace needs random bouts of celebration to keep employees interested in the work, and by extension, interested in the company. Workplace celebrations are an investment in employee morale and well-being. Besides, a little dinosaur ping-pong never hurt anybody.

What if you're a new manager who would like to change your workplace's entire approach to holidays and milestones by, you know, celebrating a few of them?

Start small, and build from there. It's going to take some time and patience to change an office culture that has completely forgotten how to have fun. Maybe you could purchase a sheet cake once a month to celebrate that month's birthdays, for example. You could plan a holiday cookie exchange, a potluck or create a coloring book mural. Anything that says that having some fun at work is okay.

Ask employees for their input too. Once the initial shock wears off -- you mean, we can actually have some fun AT WORK now?! -- they will offer great ideas that you can build on over time. It's worth the effort.

If you're interviewing for a job, you might ask what employees do for fun occasionally. How does the company celebrate milestones and events throughout the year? Is this a fun place to work? The answer could tell you a lot about the company culture, and whether or not it would be a good fit for you.

If the office next door isn't having any Halloween fun, then stop by to ask if they would like some candy. It's an act of neighborly good will, a way to meet your fellow professionals. In the process, you're letting them know that there's a world of fun outside their four, ahem, very professional walls.

They already suspect fun is happening at your workplace, however, since they saw you walking across the parking lot this morning dressed head to toe like a hot dog. Always remember, you're one of the lucky ones who can dress like this without management having a giant beef with you. That counts for something, right? Happy Halloween!


Comments

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…