In our industry, it’s sometimes too easy to see in-office holidays—especially those that involve costumes, like Halloween—as opportunities for trouble instead of fun. It can be hard for HR to encourage participation and a festive mood while simultaneously worrying about inappropriate behavior, offensive costume choices, or lost productivity.
But when handled correctly, a holiday spent in the office can be a great source of positive energy, and an opportunity to achieve HR goals without anyone even noticing:
Free Team Building
It’s likely someone in your office is already planning some diversions for the upcoming holiday, and nearly everyone will be getting involved. What better time to organize a few fun (and free) team building activities? Interdepartmental costume contests are a great way to get everybody organizing around a common goal. Fun activities like apple bobbing, “seasonal selfie” photo booths, and pumpkin decorating give execs and employees a chance to meet outside the boardroom and laugh together.
A trick-or-treat parade for kids makes parents feel warm and fuzzy about work, provides a meet and greet for spouses and kids, and offers the chance to learn more about personal situations that might otherwise go unmentioned. If your office provides flu shots or other benefits counseling for families, schedule a side office to provide an (optional) function alongside the day’s fun.
What better way to sneak in an office-wide roundup of desk debris than when everyone is fixated on decorating? Ask employees to make their areas tidy in advance of visitors or decorating services, or use a departmental decoration contest as an excuse to request a complete clean-up after the fact. With prizes, of course.
Training Without Pain
Conduct and appearance are big worries for HR around the holidays, especially in an era when dressing up is an excuse to either sexualize or capitalize on controversial news and pop culture. While it would be amazing if everyone simply respected each other and themselves, you may also find a reminder is worthwhile (USA Today’s top-10 list of 2016 Halloween costumes will convince you). But instead of reacting to inappropriate behavior or attire, try being proactive with a humorous training session or handout. If sensitivity training comes in advance of an upcoming in-office event, it’s more likely to go over as just “part of the package” without seeming prudish or overly cautious.
Candy can be a real mood booster (and a focus enhancer—who knew?), especially around the holidays. Make the rounds, make some new friends, and re-stock the HR candy drawer (you have one of those, don’t you?), taking advantage of low seasonal prices on bulk candy.
As scary as it might seem, Halloween can also be a great way to check off some boxes in your HR “to-do” list. This Halloween, make a conscious effort to find the bright side and a new perspective on in-office holidays in general. We can’t promise there won’t be issues for you to solve, but you may find that the rewards are worth the risks.