An office party can be a great boon for employees, but if employees aren’t careful about their actions, the experience could result in some rough consequences in the workplace. Here are ways to have fun but be mindful at the same time.
1. Recognize the office party is not the same as a regular night out on the town.
The bosses most likely will be in attendance and they will take note of everyone’s behavior. Treat the event as extended work hours even though one is not on the clock. Be relaxed, but don’t let it all hang out. Save some of the wildness for hanging out with friends and family at other times.
2. Drink responsibly.
An open bar is not an invitation to indulge to excess. I attended one Christmas office party where several went to the well once too often. One employee was literally laid out in the lobby of the upscale hotel where the party was held. The president of the company had invited his business associates to that party and they got an eyeful of the antics. The company canceled all office parties from that point forward. Another tip: Don’t imbibe before arriving at the party. That will be noticed as well.
3. Be careful when talking.
The office party is not the place to gossip, air grievances nor keep feuds alive (or start a feud). Negative comments made on Friday night at the club will travel at light speed back to the office on Monday and cause a lot of damage. Keep the conversations light and stick to safe subjects.
4. Don’t complain about anything regarding the party.
Are the drinks watered down? The catered food not tasty? The venue too small? Remember, there are companies that don’t think enough to show appreciation to their employees by throwing parties or doing anything else. Tactfully give suggestions on how to make it better the next time around or better yet, join the planning committee.
5. If a hint is given that attendance is expected, make an appearance if only briefly.
Depending on an employee’s status on the totem pole, upper management may regard some employees’ absence at the office party as anti-social. People may not like their job nor want to hang around their co-workers after office hours. But it might be a good idea to show up, make the rounds, be cordial, then leave after an hour to keep peace in the office during the work week.
6. Check the wardrobe.
If a dress code is announced for the office party, follow it. If one is not specified, it’s safe to be a little more dressed up than business casual. Leave the sweatpants, baseball caps, T-shirts, and athletic shoes at home unless it is clear in advance those items are acceptable to wear. Don’t go too far in the other direction, either. There was a Halloween party at another company where I worked, and a costume contest was held on the premises. One of the employees showed up wearing a costume that left little to the imagination. They didn’t win the contest. The costume was remembered, however, but not in a good way.
Have an eye on a promotion? Seeking out a mentor? Office parties are a great way to network with those in other departments who might be able to help employees move up in the company. Have a brief elevator talk prepared and don’t linger with people too long—remember, everyone is there to relax and have a good time. Be sure to follow up upon returning to the office.