It’s office party time!
If reading that string of words causes dread, you’re in good company. Office festivities, while well-intentioned, are fraught for most people.
Thrown together with colleagues, expected to mingle with clever banter, to eat but not spill, to drink but not too much, to impress the boss, well, who wouldn’t prefer to stay home and watch Netflix?
David Jacobson, founder of entertainment company TrivWorks, authored a funny blog post in which he ticked off reasons a business should resoundingly reject the notion.
“It costs too much.” “You’re paid to work, not play.” “What do you think this is, summer camp?” “We don’t care if you’re happy.”
Then Jacobson, who actually loves a good office party, countered with a compelling argument for renting out a hall.
“Allowing even a momentary pause from the daily stressful grind of running a competitive business, purely for the sake of the people actually doing that work, will have a far deeper impact on morale, and ultimately productivity, than the cynical boss might think.”
So cynical bosses, plan already.
And skeptical worker bees? Go already.
Before you don your party hat, here are some tips to save you from next-day regret, courtesy of Jacobson, human resource guru Liz Ryan and Peter Post, great-grandson of etiquette goddess Emily Post.
• Act professional. Yes, it’s a party, but it’s still a work function.
• Be inclusive. Remember that your employees likely come from different cultural and religious traditions.
• Show up on time. Try to arrive as close to the beginning as possible, and stay for at least an hour. Resist arriving 20 minutes before the party ends, just to make an appearance. On the other hand, don’t stay too long, since the opportunities for embarrassing yourself increase exponentially.
• Think moderation. In dress, in alcohol and food consumption, and in time spent with those you’d like to impress.
• Along those lines, don’t hog the boss. A few minutes of captivating small talk can speak volumes. Be sure to thank your boss for hosting.
• Dress appropriately. Business attire is always safe. If you want to break out, ask someone at a higher pay grade if cocktail attire is OK.
• Ask in advance if spouses and kids are invited. You don’t want to be the only one showing up with a toddler and his spinner, and your spouse sure doesn’t want to be the only non-employee.
• Be a good partner. Introduce your spouse or plus-one to your co-workers. Don’t abandon him or her while you hang out with your favorite work buddies.
• If, despite all this good advice, you mess up by saying the wrong thing or acting boorishly, accept responsibility. Apologize quickly and appropriately to the person you have offended.