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Should You Party Hardy? Six Tips on Holiday Etiquette at the Office

David Lewis, President/CEO of OperationsInc

David Lewis, President/CEO of OperationsInc

‘Tis the season for office parties, gift exchanges, and myriad opportunities for awkward situations at the office. Whether you’re the boss or an employee, there are a number of codes that govern what it means to be gracious – and keep your job — during the holidays.

To help navigate these tricky topics is David Lewis, President/CEO of OperationsInc, one of the Northeast’s largest Human Resources Outsourcing and Consulting firms. A 30-year human-resource professional, Lewis is a subject matter expert in the areas of human resources, workplace management and small business issues.

Here are some tips on office etiquette:

· No need to buy your boss a gift. There is a need to think this through before getting one…or not. No good deed goes unpunished. What do you get? Do you look like you are brown nosing by doing so? How much is too much? How much is too cheap? What is too personal a gift? Overall the giving of a gift to a boss usually creates more angst and awkwardness in my view so I vote you not do it.

· Bosses buying gifts for their teams is a nice touch. Most just take them out to dinner or lunch, or even invite them to their house for a party, even a pot luck. The danger here – one boss does any of these and others do nothing. The unintended consequence is that you make other managers look bad.

David 2· Coworker gifts have some of the same issues attached, but mostly the resulting Quid Pro Quo. If you know there are gift giving coworkers around at a minimum be prepared to return the favor, and if you initiate be prepared for possible awkwardness bordering on faint resentment when you give one to someone who has nothing for you.

· Charitable donations are a personal choice. Unless, of course, the message from someone in influence is ” I believe in this charity and you should contribute – hint hint, nudge nudge”, in which case it would be politically wise to do so, especially when they promote who has donated.

· Going to the Party: Where possible go to the holiday party. When these go well it is a chance to connect with your co-workers in a more casual and relaxed setting. Skipping it usually is noticed, and you may feel significantly left out and excluded when the discussion the next day is about an event you now wish you attended.

· Planning the Party: Managers need to work together, and with HR, to ensure that the party setup does not allow for or contribute to possible bad behavior. Limit the alcohol. Don’t let people drink and drive. Music = Dancing = usually is a recipe for bad behavior.

Karen Dybis

Karen is an editor and writer for Corp! Magazine. She graduated from the University of Michigan and has worked at The Mackinac Island Town Crier, The Kalamazoo Gazette, The (Adrian) Daily Telegram and The Oakland Press. Karen spent five years at The Detroit News as a business writer with stints in retail, workplace issues and personal finance. Dybis also was a blogger on Time magazine's "Assignment: Detroit" project.

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