It's Halloween and the temptation to wear your costume to the office can be hard to overcome—especially if you've invested a lot of time and effort in getting it just right. But when it comes to dressing up at the workplace, those who value their careers should think hard about their wardrobe selection, and consider removing some of the "tricks and treats."
While many people seem to take on a whole new personality at Halloween, workers should tread carefully when choosing a costume to wear at work—even if it means being forced to choose separate outfits for the office and their Halloween night shenanigans. Even if your company permits masks and costumes during office hours, it's better to play it safe, and remember that the harassment policy you signed earlier in the year does not magically disappear with the holiday.
"People in costume lose inhibitions and behave as if a tail and mask give them license to act out," says Vicki Lynn, Vault's Vice President of Research and Consulting. "It's important to keep a level of decorum when observing Halloween in the workplace."
Steer Clear of "Sexy"
"Never wear anything that oozes 'date' or 'sex,' such as a bunny costume, sexy witch, cow girl, nurse, or teacher," says Lynn. "If you think it crosses the line, it probably does. These would be costumes that show too much leg, butt and décolletage."
Wearing provocative outfits could make co-workers feel uncomfortable or lead to unwanted sexual advances, potentially resulting in legal actions—something that no employer wants to deal with. This means that if you wouldn’t normally go to the office in an outfit that would make Lady Gaga blush, you should continue that practice at the office on Halloween. That goes for the guys too: Halloween is not an excuse to come to the office without a shirt on, no matter how much you enjoy those Old Spice commercials.
Watch What You Say With Your Costume
It's possible to get into costume-related trouble even if you're only revealing an opinion with your outfit.
"Beware of the signal or message that might be conveyed with your choice of costume—i.e. anything that could be conveyed as offensive to different religions, ethnicities, genders, and/or political leanings," says Lynn, adding that "the best outfits are non-political masks."
So, if you were thinking of using your costume to make a point about one of the issues of the day, stop and think about how colleagues or clients may react. Could you open yourself up to a harassment claim or altercation that could carry on past the Halloween season? Even if you're only poking fun at a political figure, keep in mind that your colleagues may not share your opinions.
If there is even a remote possibility of causing offense, you may want to stick to something tried and true like a vampire. After all, with the way people react to Twilight, yours willl almost still seem cool.
Some Other Halloween at the Office Tips
- • Employers should voice their thoughts on Halloween protocols in the office so that everyone is on the same page before the big day.
- • Remember that even if you do show up in costume, you still have a job to do. Despite your disguise, the actions you take today will be remembered tomorrow and could contribute to the unemployment numbers next week. Stay in control.
- • It's ok to celebrate but keep noise down and celebration contained to the lunch hour.
- • If you are client facing, your customers may not be amused by the costume, so keep it strictly for the lunch party with officemates only.
- • Halloween at the office can still be fun. Just pay attention to others around you and leave the more risqué fun, if that's what you choose to do, for the witching hour.
-- Jon Minners, Vault.com
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