Halloween Fun at Work: Conjuring Up Spirits in the Workplace

Here’s a scary Halloween story for you kids: the Steve J. Baum law firm in New York, which specializes in house foreclosures, decided it might be fun to dress up for Halloween back in 2010. It would have been fun too, had they decided to go with, say, a Gilligan’s Island or Mad Men theme, as opposed to what they chose: a homeless camp. The PR damage caused by their costume motif resulted in the office closing their doors a year later. BOO! (I did warn you it was scary.)

Now you know me well enough to know that the last thing I want to do is scare you off from having fun at work this Halloween, but for goodness sake, even I’ll admit there are limits. There are, for example, many costumes that make for great fun in the privacy of your own home/bedroom, but for the office? Not so much. Especially if you are wearing. . .not so much. And do we really need to tell people: no Mylie Cyrus’s (especially for the men), no recently deceased celebrities, no terrorists, no mocking other cultures, and no dressing up as your boss unless your boss has a fabulous sense of humor and/or you are approaching your retirement date.

According to a recent survey by Glassdoor Talent Solutions, 59% of employees feel doing something fun at the office for Halloween is good for morale. But here’s the tricky part. Some people love Halloween;some people hate it. And although bigstock-man-and-woman-holding-frames-w-45029542many employees are fine with decorating the office or bringing treats into work, according to the Glassdoor survey only 6% of employees enjoy bobbing for apples and only 11% would enjoy a costume parade around the office. Halloween is a great reminder of a universal principle we need to apply when it comes to fun activities in the workplace: ask for input on what folks want to do and give everyone an equal opportunity to participate without forcing them to participate. Forcing people to have fun is akin to saying, “The beatings will stop once morale has improved.”

So have fun this Halloween. Consider doing something for a children’s charity, since that’s who Halloween is really for. Invite kids into your workplace (Beryl – a 24/7 call center – holds Halloween trick or treating in their headquarters for all the employees’ kids, where they host…wait for it…about 500+ children!).  And by all means hold that costume contest…just make sure it’s a treat for people and not a trick.

Michael Kerr, October, 2013. Michael Kerr is a very funny motivational speaker and high-content business speaker who travels the world researching, writing and speaking about workplaces with inspiring cultures and who put humor to work for less stress and more success.  He is the author of Inspiring Workplaces and Putting Humor to Work. His next book, due out in early 2014 is called, The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses Are Laughing All the Way to the Bank. be sure to sign up for the weekly e-zine, Humor at Work.

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