I get a lot of mail full of angst about company holiday parties — do you have to go, can you make your employees go, why can’t they give you a day off instead, and so forth.
Apparently there are an awful lot of you who cannot stand your coworkers enough to spend an hour standing around with them eating frosted cookies and cheese balls. And there are a lot of managers who seem to be totally oblivious to that fact.
As a holiday gift to us all, here are some official rules of office holiday parties.
Holiday Party Rules for Employees Who Don’t Want to Go
1. If you want to skip it, skip it. Say you have a conflicting engagement and stop agonizing over it. It’s not like people don’t have myriad family and social obligations at this of the year that you can use an excuse.
2. But be aware that in some offices, these things are borderline mandatory. If that’s the case with yours, suck it up and make an appearance. Look at it as any other work obligation. But come late, leave early, and pass the time by talking to your coworkers’ dates, who will probably be grateful.
3. Read my past tips for surviving the office holiday party, where you find advice like “drink things in small glasses so you have a constant excuse to leave awkward conversations.”
4. Possibly start looking for a job with coworkers you like, who you want to eat frosted cookies with.
Holiday Party Rules for Managers
1. If you think the party is a treat for employees, make sure they see it that way too. If you have staffers who just don’t enjoy these functions, requiring their presence under the guise of giving them a treat isn’t going to build morale; it’s going to hurt it.
2. Don’t expect people to read your mind. If there are work repercussions to not attending, be honest and tell people they’re expected to attend. But if it’s truly supposed to be for their enjoyment, accept that some people won’t show up because they don’t enjoy such events (or would rather spend their off hours doing something else), and be okay with that. Don’t penalize people for not going, even just in your head.
3. If you are going to expect/require attendance, you really, really should try to hold it during work hours.
What have I missed?