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How to Survive the Holidays in the Office

- Nov 13, 2012

The holidays in the office can be an awkward time. Many companies have decided not to celebrate the season, rather than chance offending someone. This is a mistake.

The holidays season has traditionally been a time when the people in the office were able to relax and get to know each other in a context other than over the board room table.

Below is a list of rules to surviving the holiday season, with your sanity and without offending anyone:

  1. Stay sober – Sure it is fun to drink during holiday parties, but the liability to the company is huge. Even larger is the damage it can do to your career. Nothing will cause people to question your leadership abilities faster than catching you with your head in a toilet or having to watch you cruise the room sharing way too much information about your life.
  2. Invite everyone – You may not know the faiths of the other people in the office, but invite them to share what they would like to see for the holidays. It can be something as simple as note on every desk, “What traditions did your family share during holidays?” The note should invite them to tell the coordinator of the holiday party. The coordinator should do their best to incorporate a little of everything. It might mean you  have wooden shoes in front of cubicles and sushi on the buffet. Great!
  3. Take a look around the world – The world is full of great holiday traditions. The internet can help you find lots of great, fun ideas. If you can’t decide on what to do, look for a culture that no one in the office is familiar with. How do people in Kenya or Outer Mongolia spend their holidays? Don’t worry if their holiday is traditionally in the fall or the summer. It is the celebration of family and community that the holiday season is really all about.
  4. Don’t exchange gifts; just give them – The old office gift exchange almost always led to hard feelings or at least exasperation. Do you really need another tea set from the dollar store or a tie carousel from someone who barely knows you? Instead give gifts to someone else as a “family.” The office can adopt a family or work with a charity to get great gifts to folks who could really use them. With “Superstorm Sandy,” a tough economy and years of war, there are millions of people right here in America who would love to know that someone they don’t know is thinking about them at this time of year. Something like a kids coat drive for a local school or church (or temple or synagogue) can make a world of difference.
  5. Family parties can be amazing but… not everyone has children. A party geared to kids can alienate people who have not chosen to procreate. Make sure that any party you have includes everyone. A bowling party can include everyone with a grown-up area and a kids area in the same bowling lanes. A party with a grown-up area and a kids’ area will make sure everyone has a place to be.
  6. Don’t be overly sensitive – As a leader, you can make sure you set a tone where everyone is welcomed, but also that if someone is forgotten, you will correct it right away. Your first response to “Hey, you forgot my faith!” shouldn’t be a call to the legal department. It should be “I am so sorry. Let’s correct that right away. What can we do?”
  7. Stay sober – It bears repeating. This doesn’t mean you can’t have one or two, but don’t get hammered and expect everyone to respect you in the morning.

The most important part of the holidays is to share love and peace. Every faith and culture values a sincere handshake or pat on the back and a simple “I want the best for you all year long.” And if you are the leader, make sure you really feel that way and that your people know it. That’s how you will get loyalty and a happy workforce.

So, here’s to a safe and happy holiday season to everyone, from all of us at ACE Employment.

(Warning: Shameless self promotion coming!) And if you can’t think of the perfect gift to give yourself or a loved one, call us. We will help you find the perfect job, guaranteed to fit right and last for years. We’re ACE Employment Services in Boston. We’re your one stop employment gift shop. Give us a call and let’s see if your new year can include an awesome new job.


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