Halloween Tips for the Workplace

It’s time for employers to decide what to do about Halloween celebrations at work.

But before deciding that it’s not a holiday worth celebrating, consider the results of a 2013 Glassdoor Halloween survey. Employees who participated in the survey said that employer-hosted Halloween events:

  • Boost morale: 59 percent;
  • Support team building: 50 percent; and
  • Build company culture: 40 percent.

Employees also pointed out other benefits of employer-sponsored Halloween events:

  • 49 percent said they see work events as a chance to connect with employees in different departments; and
  • 43 percent said the events help connect people across various levels.

Planning Halloween

The Glassdoor survey asked employees to list the Halloween celebrations they enjoy most:

  • Decorations: 42 percent;
  • Free candy: 40 percent;
  • Halloween breakfast or lunch: 31 percent;
  • A during-business hours party at the office: 29 percent; and
  • A costume contest: 27 percent.

You can decide how much Halloween celebrating you want to allow in the workplace. Employers that want to go all out can think about scheduling a series of events, or just pick one event:

  • A Halloween-themed baking contest;
  • A themed pot-luck lunch; and
  • A costume contest for Friday.

If you decide to do several small events, consider asking individual departments to plan each event.

This approach is a good way to build morale because more people get involved, and it’s also a good way to make sure that one person or department isn’t bearing all the responsibility.

For baking contests or costume contests, come up with categories so several employees have a chance to win each contest:

  • Costumes: categories could include “most creative,” “scariest” or “funniest.”
  • Baking: categories could be “most traditional,” “grossest” (think litter box cake) or “best themed.”

Decide what prizes you’ll offer to the winners, and tell employees about the prizes in advance. Also, consider asking each department to nominate a “judge” for the contests.

Dress Codes and Costumes

Although costume contests might be popular, there’s plenty of opportunity for adults to cross the costume line.

Employers should be concerned about the potentially bawdy nature of some costumes.

“Some of them can be quite outrageous and revealing and inappropriate,” warned Jessica Hawthorne, manager of CalChamber’s Labor Law Helpline.

The Glassdoor survey asked employees how they felt about inappropriate costumes at work and how such costumes could be handled:

  • 46 percent said they are unaware of their employer’s policy relating to what is, or is not, appropriate to where to work, especially when it comes to Halloween costumes;
  • 51 percent said that if someone wears an inappropriate costume to work, HR should ask the person to change to something more fitting for the workplace; and
  • 14 percent said HR should send someone home if they wear an inappropriate costume to work.


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