boss refuses to wear hearing aids, putting strengths in your email signature, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Putting strengths in your email signature

I work at a relatively small private university. Like many universities, we have a transition-to-college one-credit course for first-semester undergraduate students. I am an instructor for one section of this course, but this is in addition to my actual job.

This year, the university has decided to have first-semester students do StrengthsFinder as part of the course. Since I wanted to know what my students were doing, I asked for a code and took the assessment as well. Now the university has printed up a placard with my name and strengths on it, and someone (not my boss) has asked us to display them on or near our office door. I’ve noticed some employees, mostly who work with first-year programs, have started using their strengths in their email signatures. A few students are also doing this. I wasn’t able to attend the training for employees about how we’re using this assessment, but the powerpoint from the training mentions including your strengths in your email signature.

It might just be that I’m a private person, but I don’t want to post my strengths on my office door. I definitely don’t want to include them in my email signature, especially when I’m sending emails to people outside our university. And I don’t want to encourage my students to use them in their email signatures. (Out of context, the strengths just look like a bunch of random words and aren’t useful. I cringe when I think about students emailing about potential internships or jobs with those signatures.)

Is this as weird as I think it is? Should I push back on it, or just quietly not do it? I don’t think anyone will notice or care if I don’t change my email signature and destroy my placard, and no one has told me to tell my students to change their email signatures. However, it’s pretty likely I will eventually be instructed to encourage my students on this. I feel like I would doing my students a disservice if I don’t tell them I think the strengths email signature is a bad idea.

First, for readers who aren’t familiar with StrengthsFinder, the strengths have names like woo, maximizer, relator, etc.

And yes, putting them in an email signature would be odd, and it’s going to strike a lot of email recipients as out-of-place and cheesy. And people who don’t know StrengthsFinder (and many people don’t!) are going to find it especially strange.

For yourself, I’d just quietly not do it. But you’re right that pushing students to do it would be a disservice to them, and if you see that happening, it’s worth pushing back on it. (And why oh why do schools persist in coming up with new and creative things for students to do that employers Do Not Want?)

2. Our boss refuses to wear hearing aids

Our boss has declining hearing issues and does have hearing aids; however refuses to use them. Her voice and music volume is distracting to the point that it’s hard for people to do their jobs. We’ve gently mentioned it to her before but she refuses to wear them because she can “hear us just fine.” It’s becoming an increasing problem.

We know that she won’t take the information well. That makes those of us on the management team anxious but we feel it’s our responsibility on behalf of the rest of the staff. Can you help give us a framework for a conversation about how to handle this?

Who on the management team has the best rapport with her? That’s probably the person who should do this. I’m interested to hear from readers with hearing loss, but my thought is to just be straightforward and matter-of-fact: “I know you’ve said you don’t wear your hearing aids because you can hear fine without them. But over the last year, you’ve been speaking more and more loudly and turning up your music higher, to the point that it’s making it tough for the staff to focus on their own work. Can you think of anything we can try that would help?”

3. I’m having networking regret

I have been working at a company for a few years. It’s basically a dream job; I get to do work I love, I genuinely like most of my coworkers, and the company culture is largely relaxed. However, due to new management, morale is very low, my hiring managers seem inept at doing their jobs currently do to limited resources, and I suspect most of my coworkers are looking to leave.

I’ve been looking casually for jobs for the past few months, but nothing seems as good as what I have despite my company’s problems. I have been reaching out to my network and past work contacts. Recently, I reached out to a manager at a company I might want to work at, but frankly think is beneath me. I’m not 100% sure I’d love doing work there on a daily basis, but I wanted to cover my bases in my job search.

This manager seems excited I reached out and wants to connect, but I can’t help feeling like working there is not right for me. I wanted to do my due diligence and keep my options open by reaching out to everyone I could think of for future work opportunities, but now I feel like I’ve made a serious misstep. I will surely take the meeting, but is it wrong to reach out to potential contacts about jobs when I’m not 100% sure I’d want to work at their company? If I take the meeting, learn more about the company, and still think I’d dislike working there, have I wasted their time/seem like a terrible person/burn a bridge for reaching out in the first place? When is it appropriate to reach out to a past work contact to inquire about open jobs at their company and how sure should you be about the company?

Reaching out to a contact doesn’t imply “I’ll definitely take a job if you offer me one.” It just says, “I’m interested in exploring opportunites with you because maybe this could be a good match.” You’re still allowed to turn any offer that results, whether it’s because of the salary, the work, the company culture, or any other factor.

That said, you should assume that anyone you contact could respond by wanting to set up a meeting, and if you wouldn’t be enthusiastic about taking that next step, it doesn’t make sense to send out the feeler. It’s fine not to be 100% sure, but if you feel like the company is beneath you and you wouldn’t like working there, it makes more sense to keep those for much later on, rather than putting them in the first tier of people you’re contacting in a casual search. Otherwise it’s not a super respectful use of their time (even though they may never know that).

4. Do people really wear Halloween costumes to work?

Before I found your blog, I thought dressing up for Halloween to go to work was something only done on TV sitcoms, or maybe by elementary school teachers or other populations primarily working with small children. Maybe people in retail or restaurant work as well. But every year you seem to get multiple questions centered around wearing costumes to work.

I am flummoxed that this is actually happening at workplaces. I’d be so interested to hear from your readers who have worked somewhere where people regularly dress up for Halloween. What kind of workplace is it, what city and country is it located in, etc.? I have spent my working life in legal and policy-oriented workplaces in Massachusetts and New York State, and I have truly never seen one coworker dress up for Halloween, beyond maybe bat earrings or a pumpkin pin on a sweater, or something along those lines. Who and where are these costume-wearing colleagues?

I’m not sure either! It hasn’t been a thing anywhere I’ve worked either, but yeah, judging by my mail, there are plenty of workplaces where it is. Readers?

5. Coworker keeps asking me to do physical labor

I am in a fairly new job where I work across multiple sites. I am happy to jump in and help in areas that are “other duties as assigned.” A coworker at a site where they’re understaffed has a physical job and is currently unable to do some of this very physical work assigned to them, with no end to this in sight. This person has started to expect that I have the time, energy, and physical ability to consistently help with this. I didn’t mind helping a few times, but I’m getting really tired of doing it regularly.

It’s not just that it’s annoying and an interruption to my workflow, but I recently aggravated an old injury. I also didn’t sign up for or take a regular physical labor job because I frankly don’t like to do it. I’m okay with some interruptions or physical work occasionally, e.g. a very occasional delivery arrives and it’s all hands on deck to get it where it needs to go or carrying things to set up for a once a year event. But this work is becoming at least a twice weekly occurrence. I don’t dress for work to do physical labor, my own job duties are picking up quite a bit, and it’s become increasingly frustrating to manage. This is especially true when they call for my help right when it needs to be done and seem aggravated that I need an additional 10-15 minutes to wrap up what I’m working on. Sometimes it’s taken the time that I would otherwise spend on eating my lunch and taking a break.

It’s not that I can’t help sometimes, but I really don’t want to do this all the time. I have asked that they give me warnings when they need my help and an approximate time early in the day so I can plan for it or give them my availability. Success has been so-so. I’ve tried saying I am not available on particularly busy days, but I get pushback, “well, what am I supposed to do?” I don’t want to, especially in a newer role, seem unhelpful , but I can’t keep up with doing this work that isn’t mine to begin with.

You recently aggravated an old injury! That in itself is all you need to explain — “I recently aggravated an old injury so I won’t be able to help with this anymore.” Period. If your coworker asks what they’re supposed to do, say, “You should talk with (manager) about who can help with this. I’m not physically able to do it going forward.”

That’s such an easy and clear explanation for why you’re not helping more that you should use it. But if you didn’t have that, it would still be reasonable to say, “I can help out on occasion when you’re in a pinch, like maybe once every few weeks, but I can’t do this regularly. Can you talk with (manager) about how to handle it from here?” Also, when they ask for your help, it’s okay to just say, “I’m sorry, I can’t help with that today because of other work I need to take care of.”

I get that you don’t want to seem unhelpful, but it’s actually unhelpful to your employer if you keep doing this and grow increasingly frustrated and enable them in not finding a real solution to the problem (which they can certainly find — they’d find one if you weren’t stepping in).

{ 1,051 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    We’ve already got lots of answers to the Halloween question (which is great!) so I’m consolidating them all. If you’d like to weigh in on that question, please do it as a reply to this comment.

    1. Rachel*

      I dress up for Halloween at work at the public library. I’m not a children’s librarian, but I do interact with a lot of kids in my work at the main desk.

      1. Princesa Zelda*

        Same at my library! I’m a circulation attendant so I work the desk. I’m going to be Batgirl tomorrow, and I expect the kids to be pleased.

        When I was in retail and food service, we were absolutely forbidden from dressing up, as it violated our uniform policy, and in the case of food service, could introduce potential contaminants to the kitchen.

        1. Decima Dewey*

          I’m an Adult/Teen Librarian, and I’m currently all in black, except for a sequined witch’s hat and a gray scarf with cutely spooky stuff on it. Sort of a reformed witch (not scary, but still likes to wear the pointy hat now and then).

          I do dress for Halloween, usually in a minimalist way. Wearing a red and black dress with a devil’s tail safety pinned to the hem and a plastic pitchfork leaning against my desk, or a multicolored wig with a dragon’s tail attached to my skirt.

        2. Eclecticism is a Virtue*

          I work for a company that has multiple brands. I work in the ecommerce group, the websites. We’re very laid back, in the Western US (not California), and come and go as we wish (flex hours). Generally, we all get along. The culture is one where the director, the person in charge, will come in wearing shorts and flip flops in the summer and couldn’t care less if everyone else does, too. Right now I am waiting for an email with photos of all the people who are participating in this year’s costume contest. The office is around 50-60 people, probably a dozen or so are participating. No one cares if you do participate, or if you don’t. On my team, no one dressed up. In my department, I think one person did. I’ve worked for lots of companies over the years and it’s all industry and workplace driven. (And yes, the culture here is a big part of why I hope I stay a long time; they actually treat us as adults and trust us.)

        1. Anne of Green Gables*

          Another librarian here! I’m at a community college. I’m in costume today (Elton John) as are a few of my coworkers. I’ve seen a couple costumes from staff in other departments on campus and a few students are in costumes or funny hats. When I was at the public library, probably 80% or more of staff dressed up. It’s much less here, but it’s still an environment where I feel comfortable doing it. Our social media person usually posts pictures of staff who dress up to try to play up the fact that librarians can be fun.

      2. Lauren*

        Librarian here also, though I do work with kids. I think libraries are typical of the kind of job where you’re likely to find Halloween participants: nerdy people, people working with youth, and fields where deviation from what is considered “professional” is more common. Libraries are also (at least in every library I’ve ever worked) cool with tattoos, piercings, colored hair, eccentric clothes, etc. Dress code is usually business casual at most, and while the day-to-day pace of libraries differs dramatically, the work we do is not typically deadline or profit driven. I think that leads to an office environment that can make some time in the day to accommodate a little silliness.

        1. Curly sue*

          I’m in academia (prof) and it’s the same at my school. I wouldn’t say the majority dress up, but many do. My Halloween-day lectures are usually to a costumed crowd, and more than one faculty member pulls out Hogwarts robes every year.

          1. Sand Dollar*

            That’s interesting! I’m also a professor (at a smallish public university) and I’ve never seen a professor dress up for Halloween.

            1. curly sue*

              I teach in a Theatre department in a performing arts school at the Uni, so that may have something to do with it, though the History and English departments also get into the holiday. My former grad supervisor goes full Hogwarts every year, and I’ve got a Captain Marvel closet cosplay on today – leather jacket and appropriate t-shirt. It’s not like full-on haunted house costumes, or things that are hard to move around or teach in, but there is definitely a presence.

            2. Vermonter*

              I had a professor who not only dressed up, but gave you extra credit for showing up to class in a costume. (He was pretty lenient about his definition of “costume,” so everyone got the extra credit if they could B.S. something: “I’m dressed up as a X University student” was popular.)

              1. curly sue*

                I should do that next year. I usually bring in candy but forgot to do it this time; luckily / unluckily for my blood sugar levels the student society left two massive boxes of candy in the break room today.

          2. VAP*

            I’m also in academia. It definitely seems to vary by institution–at my last job I don’t think I saw any faculty dressing up. At my current place, some departments regularly put together a theme and encourage all the faculty and staff to join in (Star Wars, Superheros, zombie versions of your favorite scientist, etc). And there is always a Hogwarts robe!

            1. curly sue*

              I’ve seen four out of the seven faculty & staff in my department so far today and we’ve all got something happening – my Captain Marvel, a generic Hallowe’en skeleton, a neon gecko onesie, and Sad from Inside Out (with blue face and body paint).

              1. TeeGee*

                I’m Helga Hufflepuff today. I consistently dress up for Halloween, since I often work directly with library patrons. Off the top of my head: I’ve previously dressed up as a hippie, Sonia Sotomayor, a penguin, a sister of the Brown Ajah (Wheel of Time), in various RennFaire dresses, and as a Hufflepuff student. (Access Services, Academic Library).

          3. Sparrow*

            I’ve worked at a couple of universities, and it seems to vary pretty widely! On the student affairs side of things, small things seem to be common – cat ear headbands, witch’s hat, skull earrings, etc. – but I haven’t seen all that many full costumes. I think the most I’ve actually seen was a former boss who pulled a Jim Halpert and dressed up as a colleague who wore suits everyday in a business casual office. But even though it was clear to all of us that she was in costume, a random person walking through wouldn’t have known.

            At one university, I encountered an academic department who was well known for doing themed costumes every year, and pretty much everyone in their main office participated, as did some random professors. Every year, enough people would stop by their office to check out the costumes that they started handing out candy.

            1. Curmudgeon in California*

              I’m sitting at my desk dressed as a “Ninja Hacker”, complete with keyboard slung on my back. I work in University IT (staff). I’d say that about 10 – 20% of staff dress up, sometimes whole teams will do a group theme. I’m the only one on my team that does, but they know I’m weird.

        2. LadyL*

          I think you nailed it, because I’m not a librarian but “nerdy, non-traditional job that works with youth” describes my career perfectly (museum education), and yeah every place I’ve worked at does Halloween costumes with the caveat your costume must be kid friendly (and some places have required costumes be thematically matched to the job, like the history museum required any costume to be a historical figure of some kind).

        3. Dust Bunny*

          Private academic library: We tend to do costumes lite (because we have to be able to do our jobs without getting tangled in witch hair or tails) but people do costumes sometimes, yes. I didn’t this year, but I’m wearing a dress with skulls on it.

          1. schnauzerfan*

            SciTech academic here. We are very lite on the costumes, a couple of us are wearing seasonal tees, some orange and black, funky earrings… I expect that a couple of our student workers will have some sort of costumes too.

        4. Color-coding snowflake*

          Somewhat related: children’s publishing, and people do dress up; there’s even a “feel free to dress in costume!” email from HR a week or two earlier. (There’s also a lot of black and orange and the OP’s “bat earrings or pumpkin pin” throughout the month of October.) Sometimes people dress up as characters from our books, which is always endearing. There’s voting on the best costume, too.

      3. Shhhh*

        I’m an academic librarian (in a student facing role) and dressed up at my last job. Never anything elaborate—I always chose costumes where if I, say, removed a cat ear headband, I’d be dressed normal and professionally. I’m at a different university now and don’t know what the culture around it here is yet and I’m out of the office today so I won’t know until next year. If I were going in, though, I’d probably throw my cat ears in my bag and wait and see when I got to work.

        1. marxamod*

          The great thing about a neutral black outfit is you can toss on cat ears or a witch hat and *costume* then remove them and be a totally normal human. I keep a little witch hat on a headband in my office for… just in case

        2. Halloween*

          I used to work as an admin in a huge university, and my non student facing department got very into Halloween! Pretty much everyone had at least a casual costume (I wore black and added a giant witch’s hat) and some people changed into really elaborate costumes before the department lunch.

      4. Liberry pie.*

        Another library worker here. I dressed up as a literary character and let patrons guess who I was. I wore a red high school graduation gown and a white bonnet made out of poster board.

        1. Kersten*

          Also a library worker and we are encouraged (but not pressured) to dress up! We even have theme costume days leading up to Halloween. It’s a public library so obviously costumes are expected to be kid-friendly and work-appropriate as to movement. I’ve only seen a few people dress up (mostly in the kids’ area) but then it isn’t Halloween yet and I think this year has been quieter for several unrelated reasons. There’s been a Hermione Granger, Phryne Fisher and a fairy so far so I think they skew more literary.

      5. Galahad*

        I have dressed up, and other co-workers too, but at most it is 1 in 3 persons.
        Where? An engineering office, a fortune-50 retailer (backstage office as well as customer facing), an engineering design office. Prairies, PNW, San Francisco. The retail back stage office – think accountants, customer service reps, admin staff, HR, Labor relations, management, marketing.

        Women dress up more than men, but men do so if there is a a team costume event. Some of my fellow engineers were quite clever with their costumes. So creative types (engineers are creative) and people-oriented types. Marketing and HR, admin and managment leads. Our lawyer NEVER dressed up, for example. I did see IT at one office and a computer programmer dressed as a sports fan.

        This applied to 40 hr /wk hourly employees as well as exempt and 60 hour a week salaried staff.

        Sometimes people get changed for the afternoon break through end of work “happy hour / social” only.

        1. Jack be Nimble*

          My current workplace is similar. I’m on the east coast and we had our Halloween party yesterday afternoon. Nobody wore costumes during the day, but several people changed for the party itself, and their costumes ranged from “added a funny hat to what I was already wearing” to full-on face paint and props.

          At my former workplace in the Midwest, there was a lot more dressing up and a lot more intense costumes. It was a very slow-paced work environment with low turnover and people took Halloween very seriously! My boss (jokingly?) threatened me about dressing up. It was weird.

        2. Anax*

          Yep, that sounds accurate to me. I’ve worked in state government back-offices, and currently at a bank – the Halloween party on the patio is very loud and joyous right now.

          (I, meanwhile, have had a migraine for most of the past week because of wildfire smoke – thanks, California – so I’m a little too frazzled to participate.)

          I think a strong emotional investment in team culture also affects things strongly, even in “non-people” jobs – my current team is pretty close-knit, and we have a lot of potlucks and other low-key networking events, which has driven participation here.

          I’ve also noticed that a lot of immigrant folks don’t participate in Halloween festivities; it’s a pretty North American cultural phenomenon, and depending on workplace demographics, that can have a substantial effect on participation.

      6. LimeTwist*

        We, a tech scale-up , had our Halloween party last Friday and there was a costume contest as part of it. Most people changed right before the party, but one of my peers went the whole day in full costume including face and hair paint – as the Heath Ledger Joker nurse. She was the only one on our floor (that stood out. Someone else was Captain America and had the jacket on but it’s the dark blue/grey one), and at some point, there was a meeting with an external party, possibly an investor, that got a tour of the office, so that was funny. She won the contest.

        1. Colette*

          Yeah, most tech companies I’ve worked for encouraged dressing up for Halloween – there was usually a costume or decorating contest, and some sort of in-work social event. Participation wasn’t mandatory, but some groups got really into it.

            1. Anax*

              I think things like this – as well as a relaxed dress code, on-site food, and flex time – are often very deliberate perks in tech! The work is difficult and specialized, and a lot of the big-name companies draw talent with perks to compensate for long working hours, which seems to have trickled culturally into the rest of the industry.

      7. Mrs B*

        Also work in a public library, while we’re neither encouraged or discouraged from dressing up, it tends to be low key or literary character based. My go to “costume” is Harriet the Spy, which most people don’t even pick up on as it involves wearing a hooded sweatshirt, cuffed jeans and high top sneakers. My co-worker dressed up as Ramona Quimby which was much the same except she made a barrette that looks like an cracked egg which is a reference to one of the scenes in one of the books. When we have a Halloween program for kids, it can be a little more fanciful, but as there are times when you have to be serious when certain patron issues come up, I’ve always found it’s better choose something subtle.

      8. AnonEmu*

        I’m in academia, and it varied but there were definitely grad students and staff on campus dressed up. I used to bring candy to classes I taught for Halloween, and give it to students as a treat, and wear a work-appropriate costume. I live overseas now but I dressed in a work-appropriate costume today and made some baked goodies for my coworkers to celebrate – they don’t really celebrate Halloween here, so it was a bit novel for my coworkers, but I think it went over well? (My costume was a t-shirt and baseball cap, so it wasn’t too out there). In the US I have definitely noticed the medical field dressing up for Halloween though? Either festive scrubs or something work-appropriate but def a costume.

      9. Wish I had a Barbara Gordon costume*

        My southern public library also has a day we have events for kids and all staff who want to dress up that day. We have enough who do dress up across all city facilities that the city (we are city employees) has a costume dress code.

        I have a friend in a CA academic library. Staff are dressing up so friend is getting something simple (think witch hat) to fit in but does not care to dress up.

      10. Steph the Editor*

        I work for a county, and omg do people dress up! It was shocking to me (coming from a different kind of public agency) that there were full costumes that made it hard to keep a straight face!

      11. Ellery*

        I work at a legal library so the most I have dressed up is a Superman shirt under my regular work shirt. I wear glasses so this is an instant Kara Danvers costume

      12. Nerdy Academic*

        We dressed up when I worked in a library, too! And we were an academic library, so no children. But we always had so much fun picking a theme and making our costumes!

      13. Chocoholic*

        I work for a small non profit organization in Denver. People always dress up here, though not everyone does. One time, years ago, a bunch of people dressed as another employee, unbeknownst to him. When he came in to work that day, he was actually dressed as a *different* employee. Today I am dressed as my 15 year old daughter, which was a dare from my daughter. :)

        1. Chocoholic*

          My husband works for a large architectural firm and they have a full on costume contest, which he has won once or twice. Today he is dressed as steampunk Green Lantern. They have around 175 employees and lots of people dress up. Lots of people don’t as well.

      14. Matilda*

        I work in a public library too! I don’t tend to dress up (mostly because I’m never on top of it enough to put together a costume in time – although after attending an area comic con I finally have an homage to Daria costume so I’ll probably wear that in the future just because I love her), but plenty of my coworkers do. Those in actual costumes tend to be the people who work in children’s (although not always), but some of my adult services colleagues have great Halloween dresses and sweaters.

      15. BethRA*

        For OP#4 – I’ve only ever dressed up at food-service jobs, but my partner’s last company (they were in the tech sector and did a lot of work with banks) went all-in. Someone would pick a theme (say, animated movies) and each department would pick a sub theme (“Coco” “Frozen”) and they not only dressed up but decorated their area. There were prizes and fierce competition for them.

      16. Stephanie*

        I came here to say this! Public library in Louisiana. We’re encouraged to dress up, just nothing gory, sexy, or otherwise inappropriate.

      17. Awlbiste*

        Same, public library, we all dress up. I’ve also dressed up when working retail, phone centers, and at a public university. Upper midwest, if location matters.

      18. Valprehension*

        Same! I actually am in children’s services, but dressing up is *highly* encouraged for all staff, and the execs actually visit each branch on Halloween to take pictures of our costumes, and award prizes for best individual and group costumes (we’re pretty competitive about it too!). It’s a whole thing.

      19. Anonymeece*

        Academic librarian here at a community college, and we dress up, to varying degrees. Some of us go more subtle, but some of us go all out!

      20. Sandan Librarian*

        I’m also a public librarian, working in technical services, and I’m dressed up as Wednesday Addams even though I don’t even get to see the public.

      21. Rose*

        Yeah, I was about to say, as a librarian who works in a public library but primarily in the adult reference area, dressing up is definitely not required but is encouraged. My go-to costume is an orange sweater, black pants, and a pair of wings — I call myself the Halloween fairy. I’m not much for costumes, but it feels wrong to do nothing. We get people who go all out — at our Halloween storytime and costume contest this weekend, the children’s librarian was dressed as Merlin and another librarian was the Wolfman — but we also get people who do nothing. We do fit that category the OP listed, of working with kids, but even those of us who aren’t really dealing with the kids often do at least something.

    2. Dragoning*

      Regarding #4: My company allows us to wear costumes (and last year, even though few of us did, our department manager seemed disappointed and wanted us to show more, I don’t know, holiday spirit and felt like she was competing with one of her peers over it). Not everyone does, but enough people do that it’s not super out of place, and it’s culturally allowed.

      I’m absolutely dressing up, because Halloween is my favorite holiday, I love costumes, and it’s fun. And I definitely work in a place where work is more “career” than “job.”

      But we also get to wear jeans daily as long as we don’t have external client meetings, and I frequently wear a hoodie into the office.

      1. Dragoning*

        (I actually overheard a conversation in the office last week about whether or not it was okay to wear a costume if they were presenting at an early morning meeting, and the answer depended heavily on who was in the meetings–but even the worst-case scenario was “put it on after the meeting when you’re done presenting!”)

      2. Lynn Whitehat*

        Quite a few of us dress up for Halloween. Tech company, Austin, Texas. People definitely have “careers” rather than “jobs”, specifically in software development and sales. It’s not a slow time at all. Actually, since October 31 is the last day of the month, it’s a busy day for sales as they try to meet their monthly quota. I’m not usually big on “office bonding and fun!” I’m the first to come here and complain about optional-but-really-mandatory boat parties and things. But since the costumes are genuinely optional and people seem to actually enjoy doing it, I kind of feel like, why WOULDN’T it be a thing, assuming the type of work doesn’t make it impossible. I’m hoping if we have actual fun and socializing, it will crowd out some of the mandatory “fun”.

        1. MK*

          That mandatory fun probably is (or started as) someone’s idea of actual fun. And your actual fun could be (or quickly become) someone else’s semi-mandatory fun.

          1. fposte*

            It could, but I don’t think you have to avoid informal fun just for fear it will become codified.

        2. Kate, who will be dressed as a pumpkin*

          Consultant mostly working with tech companies here, also in Austin and I agree wholeheartedly! Costumes are strongly encouraged in our office, and management seem unconcerned about potential client meetings and interviews.

          I’m being cautious and wearing something I can easily remove if necessary, but others are definitely going all out.

        3. T3k*

          I worked in a similar field (entertainment and tech) on the east coast for 2 well known companies. Both encouraged dressing up for Halloween, but before that the other jobs I had never bothered. It was rather amusing walking into a meeting and seeing my boss’ boss dressed up in a unicorn onesie costume.

          1. Tweidle*

            Also in a tech company in the Upper Midwest. We’ve got costumes and careers rather than jobs. I actually dressed as non-hulk David Banner as I type this. Our lunch room has been decked out in Halloween decorations for a couple of weeks. Our facilities person really likes Halloween.
            We have our children and spouses in to trick-or-treat for company provided candy this afternoon at 4.

          2. Frances Quotes*

            BTDT, I wonder if you are in my office. Also in the Midwest, in a large recognizable tech company. (FWIW I voted for the Ron Swanson in the costume contest).

            Definitely a career place, but it’s part of the same culture that has foosball tables and a froyo machine and massages available on site.

        4. Former B4 Manager*

          My office has mostly back office support for a decently sized private equity held company in the upper midwest. Mostly accounting/marketing/HR/IT. We are a pretty laid back office in general (most everyone wears jeans every day, but still collared shirts or nice tops).

          We have a variety of Halloween activities today, including a costume contest (I won last year, and got a little mini-cake as a prize), contest for spookiest decorations to their cube, donuts in the morning and a catered lunch, and an explicit invite for your kids to stop by to show off their costumes.

          Definitely feel there is no pressure to participate in the costumes, as maybe 1/2 of the people dress up, and I think it is a fun way for everyone to relax a bit and have some fun with their work.

          I think the fact that we don’t have in person interactions with customers matters a bit, as unless you are in specific jobs (the librarians above), it probably would be seen as out of place.

        5. littleandsmall*

          > But since the costumes are genuinely optional and people seem to actually enjoy doing it, I kind of feel like, why WOULDN’T it be a thing, assuming the type of work doesn’t make it impossible.

          This was my thoughts! I also live in Austin and used to work in tech (in the non-profit world now) and I know in general as a city, things are more casual/laid-back here in general but I was probably just as shocked that the letter writer had never seen or heard of people dressing up at work (although understandable given their line of work) as they were to find out that it was A Thing.

        6. JJ*

          Also in a tech firm, in Canada. I’d say about 1/3 of the office was in costume and another 1/3 came to the ‘costume contest’ to cheer and have fun with the participants before voting for best costume (and pizza lunch for all).

          We did have serious client meetings for some people today and at least one of the people came dressed for client & then changed into costume so it is taken seriously by those who participate – but no one judges you if you don’t decide to

          (and for the record if I knew the costume contest was going to include a catwalk walk this year I would have been in the spectator crowd, not in the showing off crowd)

        7. Indigo a la mode*

          IT firm here, too. I’m not usually a costume person, but I’m sitting here typing this dressed up as Princess Leia. We actually had a great turnout costume-wise this year, with a contest for groups – we have classic Star Wars (my team), a hilarious team of sushi, a bunch of heroes, and the entire cast of Dodgeball. On an individual level, we’ve got a guy in a gillysuit, a horse, a witch, etc., plus people wearing general Halloween-type shirts and accessories.

          It’s all totally optional, no pressure, nothing offensive – just half an hour out of our day to mill around and take pictures and eat the sweets people baked for the also-optional spooky baking contest, featuring everything from “tricky-treat” chocolate/caramel cookies to “witch fingers” to rice krispie pumpkins to utterly horrifying “poppable pimple” cupcakes.

          I love when people are into office spirit stuff. Halloween and the annual chili cook-off have been great this year.

      3. Diahann Carroll*

        I’m absolutely dressing up, because Halloween is my favorite holiday, I love costumes, and it’s fun.

        Halloween is my favorite holiday as well. I need to start dressing up for it again, though – I feel like I haven’t done it properly in years. It’s shameful.

      4. Feline*

        Our office has in years past encouraged costumes to the point of offering prizes for the best team costumes. One team turned their entire cubicle area into a pac-man scene, complete with dots on the floor, the works. I am a party pooper and told my team I wasn’t participating. Spending money on a costume I didn’t want to wear to work on the day of our ugliest deadline of the year didn’t seem like a good time to me.

        I’m working remote this year while recovering from some medical stuff, and it’s a relief not to have the peer pressure on about it. I haven’t seen emails about it, so it sounds like the costume mania may be dying down at our office. Or maybe someone pointed out to the Fun Contest Holders that this is a rough deadline for half the office, and they don’t have time for a costume parade.

      5. Anon Today*

        I work for a state elected official, but even at that, there’s variation. A few years ago, our top manager’s favorite holiday was Halloween, and everyone in her chain of command went All Out. New administrations have come and gone since then, and now the vibe is more year-round professionalism. Today I’m wearing a black skirt suit with orange shell, which is festive and seasonal, but still perfectly appropriate.

      6. Gumby*

        Yep, I’ve always worked places where it was allowed and encouraged to varying degrees. Sometimes costumes were only donned for part of the day but generally that is because they were bulky or would otherwise impede work. Yes, “career” type workplaces – multiple internet companies (highest participation), scientific R&D (medium-low participation), a university (not student-facing, lowest participation). I think one thing that could be common is that they are all casual-dress type places even on non-Halloween days. So it’s not “skip the suit today and wear a costume” it’s “skip the jeans/khakis today and wear a costume” which seems a smaller gap.

    3. PlantPipesUp*

      My office dresses up, and has a party that includes not only a costume contest, but a pet costume contest as well (you submit a photo in advance, the animals themselves are not present).

      We work in extracurricular educational programming, though. So lots of former teachers, camp counselors, and other educational professionals, which comes through in company culture pretty strongly. This is also (for my department especially) our slow season. So carving out 1-2 hours isn’t difficult. Departments are also very silo’d, but would definitely benefit from more collaboration, so company-wide events are also helpful for increasing communication between departments, even if it’s more informal.

      Lastly, and most importantly, it’s completely voluntary. Nobody is judged for not participating, and even the party is not mandatory.

      1. LQ*

        Similar here. We are primarily a call center in government. A lot of jobs rather than careers. It is mostly voluntary. If your whole team is really into it, it’s hard to be the one person sitting it out. But that’s entirely peer pressure, there’s no pressure from above. Most supervisors and managers don’t participate. A few have teams that rope them in, but the pressure comes from below in all those cases.

        We don’t have a party, but lots of potlucks today.

      2. Red*

        Yes, I work at an org where we have an annual Halloween breakfast. Costumes absolutely aren’t required but a fair amount of folks do low-key costumes: no face paint or onesies but usually shopping from our closets with orne or two additions. I think it’s a fun way to get out of my business casual clothing and I’m always curious to see what people will come up with!

    4. Halloweenie*

      #4 – raises hand. I work for a pretty well known consumer product company in Los Angeles (about 250 people) and our office does a Halloween dress up day every year. At least half the staff participates.

      1. Product Person*

        Me too, I’m in Austin and have worked for plenty of companies in all sorts of fields, and especially in the mid-sized ones, Halloween costumes are a thing. Pretty high level folks dress up as well: just saw our Chief Data Architect heading to a meeting dressed as a cowboy riding a horse (!).

        1. Rose*

          Yes, I’ve found that it’s really about what the high-level people are into. I’ve been in my job many years, and a decade ago, people decorating their work areas and coming to work in costume was popular and many did it–it was a good time. Then management changed and even though there was no policy changed and technically you can still come in in costume if you like–and a few people do–it’s really not “a thing” now and you’d barely know it’s Hallowe’en. I don’t think it’s about career vs. job, or anything like that–we’re all career publishing people and very dedicated to our work–we just like a little morale-boosting fun now and again. It’s about what tone management takes. “Goofy fun costumes” is definitely no longer the tone around here!

    5. Questionly*

      #4- My office is crazy for halloween and dressing up. They may actually be the opposite of what Alison mentioned.

      Where I work, it’s not just a job and we are always super busy. But my division is also led by a group of managers who-
      -seem to have no life outside of work/work is their life
      -put a strong emphasis on not mandatory (but really they are mandatory) “fun-tivities” and team-building activities that supposedly make this such a fun place but really just make many of us want to run away screaming

      The irony is that I personally love halloween and would be okay coming to work in a costume, if everything wasn’t so contrived and dictated from above. I should also mention that one of said managers actually likes to go around ahead of time suggestion costumes to people. And suggestions are often based on the person’s looks or ethnicity, which in addition to being offensive, goes against the main reason for a costume- you know, to dress up as something completely different.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        And suggestions are often based on the person’s looks or ethnicity,

        Oh lord – where is Shocked Pikachu? I need to borrow its expression. (This is a discrimination suit waiting to happen.)

      2. Tasha*

        I have worked for several insurance companies in three states in the upper Midwest–so, conservative industry, conservative locations. BUT there’s been frequent costuming, and often office decorations, with departments competing for the “best.”

        Once our (male, MD) medical director dressed as a pregnant woman and gave “birth” in the cafeteria. Crazy times. (If any of my previous colleagues are reading this, they will surely remember who I mean.)

        1. Thundersnow*

          Also in insurance, in Dallas TX. My section manager dressed as a movie-accurate Wonder Woman last year!

    6. IsbenTakesTea*

      OP4: At my previous office job, there were no full costumes, per say, but some festive headbands/jewelry/ties/accessories were normal and welcome.

      1. Ophelia*

        Yeah, this tracks with my experience (government contractor/consulting firm with a social/environmental bent). I wouldn’t show up in a costume, but something like a scarf with spiderwebs on it, or an orange sweater, or some kind of bat pin or something would be totally accepted/expected.

    7. AussieGhoul*

      RE: #4 – people definitely have dressed up at my various (Australian) workplaces, which is kind of funny because it’s such a Northern Hemisphere autumnal holiday and it’s not even autumn here in the Southern Hemisphere in October. But, you know…capitalism/globalisation! Not everyone dresses up – I would say the majority do not – and it really depends on the industry and your role/team. I’m guessing there isn’t a lot of dressing up happening at law firms etc – but in retail and hospitality you’ll often see people wearing costumes (again, not the majority, but it’s not out of place either) and some workplaces will do things like dress-up social events/competitions, etc. I’m currently at work at a university here in Australia, and the student support team is all dressed up as part of hashtag student engagement. However, in terms of the rest of the staff in other departments, only a couple of people dressed up. Basically: it’s not wide-spread but it’s also not super weird, depending on the role/team/context of your job.

      1. Takenoko*

        Halloween is getting bigger here in Japan thanks to capitalism/globalization, but people don’t dress up for work. At my local supermarket the retail workers had little witch hats on, and foreign/English teachers might dress up at school. Some places have events for children (or even adults) to dress up, and trick-or-treating is more common than in the past, but it happens in a controlled environment like a mall or event space, not people’s homes. And of course lots of adults go out partying in costume. But work attire is pretty conservative here and I’ve never seen anyone dress up at an office job. Sometimes people don’t even know what day the holiday actually is because events happen on the weekend and it’s an imported holiday.

        1. Minocho*

          When I was a JET, our town had a Halloween celebration put on by the city government with involvement from other local JETs. This was back in 2000, and it was obvious it wasn’t something that had caught on widely, yet.

        2. sacados*

          Yup. My office actually did have a lot of people who dressed up, but that was cause it was both a creative industry/casual environment (people mostly wore jeans or whatever every day) and also even though it was technically a Japanese company it was a super international atmosphere.
          One of my friends works as an English teacher for really little kids, and the classroom locations are all in various department stores. The past few years, they have done little trick or treat events, all her kids will dress up (lots of Elsa) and they go around to the stores on their floor.

          My favorite part of Halloween in Japan though is the jimi halloween — have you seen that? If you search #地味ハロウィン on twitter there’s a bunch of pics. It’s an event where people dress up as something totally mundane yet a thousand percent relatable, like “person you would expect to see at a combini at midnight” or “guy who just bought an umbrella and then it stopped raining.”

      2. londonedit*

        Halloween seems to be getting bigger every year in the UK (there are now themed TV adverts from supermarkets specifically featuring Halloween products, which there never used to be before) but outside of maybe schools (although a lot of schools are on half-term holiday for the last week of October) and maybe customer-facing jobs like retail (it’s reasonably common to see checkout workers in supermarkets wearing some sort of small Halloween-themed thing like devil horns or maybe a pumpkin jumper or something) I’ve never heard of a workplace where people would dress up for Halloween, or have a party or anything like that.

        1. Media Monkey*

          also never seen anyone in any UK workplace i have worked at dressed up. and we are generally pretty laid back, wear jeans and so on. it’s just not a thing here. we do have a couple of decorations – some spiderwebs on the pictures and crime scene tape along the windowsill this wear.

          1. Media Monkey*

            also don’t see anyone dressed up on the tube in the morning, so i don’t think it’s just my workplaces.

            1. londonedit*

              Yes, same. We’re also very laid-back in my industry – people wear jeans all the time and tend to dress quite casually, but I’ve never seen anyone dress up, and I’ve never seen any Halloween-themed workplace activities. And you’re right, I’ve never seen adults dressed up during the day on the tube, so I don’t think many people are wearing Halloween costumes to work!

              1. TechWorker*

                Those who do dress up would likely change at work for the themed event (were having cake and pumpkins carving) rather than wear it on the tube, to be fair.

        2. Grace*

          Currently on my lunch break in my UK workplace… and there’s a Halloween bake-off competition (entirely voluntary, most people in my small office have brought something but I don’t think that’s the case in the bigger office) and a low-effort party later (quiz and a couple of drinks, but again, I’m in the office with fewer than ten people; uncertain as to what it’s like in the bigger office). We were encouraged to do costumes – out of the people here now, they range from closet cosplays (I’m River Tam from Firefly – loose long hair, blue dress, combat boots) to casual spooky (skeleton leggings and skeleton jewellery) to actual costume (Ghostbusters-style flight suit).

          We’re normally an office that allows jeans or miniskirts or leggings unless you’re having a client meeting – none of the clothes people are wearing today would be disallowed on the average workday – so it’s really not that different from the norm. No Halloween decorations, though.

      3. Snuck*

        Another Aussie here…

        I never saw it in any of my corporate jobs… middle management and above, project, IT and engineering management sort of spaces… Think Dilbert spaces. Not even in the country’s largest internet provider where rounds of Katamari on the Dunkin’ Donuts bean bags were normal. Definitely never in finance.

        I’ve seen it more often in customer facing lower skilled roles – cafes, checkouts, supermarkets etc. Or child centred roles (childcare, libraries, maybe some of the assistants in medical spaces like dental or nursing). Or lightly skilled/large volume roles like call centres maybe.

        Something might have changed more recently (I now work in a different field entirely) but it definitely wasn’t a thing a while back in Australia.

      4. Government, Washington, DC*

        People who are not public-facing (HR, budget) go all out. We see some really incredible costumes. Those who are public facing may do something modest – hat, ears, or just Halloween sweaters, ties or jewelry. Ditto for middle managers – they might do something fun, but low key and easy to remove if an important meeting comes up.

    8. alienor*

      No. 4 – I work for a large global company with headquarters in the western U.S., and dressing up for Halloween is definitely a thing. Over the last several years we’ve started having official contests for best costume, best departmental decorations, etc, which actually seems to have dampened the enthusiasm somewhat, I guess because it feels more like work when the company is sponsoring it . I don’t personally dress up beyond a black T-shirt and some bat earrings, but I know plenty of people who do (ironically the department that participates the least is the creative team; it’s the accountants who go wild).

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Here too–one of our senior analysts has her office decorated to the nines, down to a pumpkin-print tablecloth covering her low bookshelf.
        But anyone back-office gets into the act… I haven’t decided how nuts to go in the morning myself, but it’ll be removable because my new desk is near the lobby…and not long enough to tangle my chair. (Definitely career type place–we design & build networked systems. )

    9. Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler*

      Re: #4: I work in a field that’s fairly business standard in terms of dress (think project management), and my company is quite large. But people definitely dress up for Halloween, sometimes with work-specific costumes, and different divisions will even have costume contests and parties.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        I’ve generally worked in fairly intense kinds of places, with varying levels of “celebrating” Halloween. I’ve not seen people generally dressing up unless there were a party, and even then, a lot of people were changing clothes at 3. My current job has a huge office-wide day-long celebration with teams taking on different themes and mass participation, and we are vary “career” and quite conservative every other day of the year.

    10. Booklover13*

      LW#4 I am one of your mythical people-who-dress-up, and work in Massachusetts. About 10-20% of people dress up(there is explicit permission from upper management), so I’m not fully out of place. With my local friends their companies ran from no costumes at all to giving out multiple different categories of best costume prizes.

      I think the two big factor are how client facing the workplace is and how professional the dress code.

      1. EPLawyer*

        Definitely. Lawyers tend not to dress up. Why? Dress code expectations and if you litigate, you might wind up in court. No one is standing in front of a judge wearing a full costume and/or face paint. Maybe a little Halloween themed jewelry for women and a themed tie for men. Oh socks, both genders. Defiinitely themed socks are a THING for lawyers. But that’s it.

        1. Anne Elliot*

          Another lawyer (government lawyer) endorsing this. Today (Halloween) we have a couple of women with Halloween jewelry, one woman and one man wearing business-appropriate orange sweaters, and one man in a Halloween tie (orange with Jack O’Lanterns). There’s some people on other floors (in other departments) in costumes, but not many. Nobody in the legal office. Wearing a costume would be out of sync here. I’m in a metropolitan area in the American South.

          1. Emily*

            I have a friend who works at a law firm and not only did they dress up for Halloween, they had theme days for the entire week leading up to Halloween so people were in costumes all week. I was moderately flummoxed by this.

      2. Senor Montoya*

        OP #1. Don’t do it. This is a thing with student affairs and certain kinds of academic affairs depts. Our office has done a number of these sorts of things — I always find my own results unsurprising, and can pretty well peg my colleagues, but a lot of my colleagues find it revealing and interesting, and it does give something to structure otherwise difficult discussions about interpersonal relationships.

        Some of my colleagues have their strengths on their door — I do not. The door is ok — but in your email signature? These kinds of assessments are intellectually suspect, and you will look unprofessional and frankly not very sharp when the rest of the university (especially but not only faculty) sees it.

        1. Penelope*

          OP #1, I am feeling pretty sure you’re a coworker. Is the school one that starts with an M?

          Yes, leave it off your email sig and off your door and just smile blankly if someone brings it up. They’re ridiculous non-parallel words and while it’s not a terrible tool the words are just incoherent unless you’re already familiar with it.

      3. Corporate Lawyer*

        Another Massachusetts person here, and a lawyer to boot (but in-house at a tech company, which is a very different environment from a law firm), and dressing up for Halloween is very much A Thing at my company. Some of the costumes can be quite creative and elaborate. There’s even a costume contest happening at lunch today. Personally, I don’t dress up, but that’s because it isn’t my thing; it would be totally okay and in keeping with my company’s culture if I did.

    11. Edianter*

      My current office (state government agency) has a costume contest and pumpkin carving contest. Last year, less than 20 (of 500+ employees) wore a costume, and there were maybe ~8 pumpkins for us to vote on. I did not (and will not) participate in either contest.

      The most egregious part? In the reminder email about the contests last week, the headline on the graphic was “If you’ve got it, haunt it!”

    12. A Tired Queer*

      #4: I work in a fast-paced department in a hospital in New York State, and there is a surprisingly high number of people who are very invested in dressing up! Granted, most of us don’t work directly with patients, but still. No costume contests or anything like that, but I can reasonably expect to see a large number of at least partial costumes on Halloween.

      1. Cindy Featherbottom*

        Im in the US and work in a large hospital and outpatient and people dress up. It depends on the department but the majority of people I see dress up. The main departments that don’t include the surgical staff and the ER team, which makes sense since they are in more urgent/time sensitive scenarios.
        In my outpatient setting everyone wears at least a little something. Usually it’s stuff that can easily taken off or something comfortable if it’s a full costume since it can get pretty hectic, but it’s a nice way to have a little fun in the craziness that is healthcare. Most patients tend to appreciate it too.

      2. Ktelzbeth*

        I work in pediatric healthcare, inpatient and outpatient, and a lot of people dress up, from front office staff to doctors. I don’t, but some years I remember to wear orange.

      3. MD*

        I work at a children’s hospital and about half of my colleagues have dressed up at least in some fashion. We aren’t patient-facing: we just work in an office in a separate building to the hospital. It’s mt first year here, so my costume is just a prop and two articles of clothing that can be taken off if needed.

        1. bean*

          Worked at a children’s hospital up till recently, and each department would pick a theme and anyone who wanted to dress up would adhere to their department’s theme. There was always a contest at some point in the day to see which department had the best costumes. Not everyone dresses up, but people get pretty into it. The kids love it.

      4. SNF Halloween*

        The about 2/3s of the therapy (PT/OT/speech) and nursing staff at my skilled nursing facility wore costumes today with management’s blessing! Outside of Halloween, therapy’s daily uniform is khakis and a black shirt, and nursing’s uniform is scrubs. None of the costumes were super elaborate with props and everything because we all have to be able to easily assist our patients/residents, but there were recognizable superheroes, pirates, etc.

    13. FaintlyMacabre*

      Laboratory job- people dressed up. Boy howdy, did they dress up. I didn’t expect it my first year there on Halloween and got lots of comments on my lack of costume. Bowing to peer pressure, I put some arm and leg holes in a biohazardous waste bag and stuffed it with some packing material. I got mixed reactions at work for my impromptu costume, but at a friend’s party I turned it into a “sexy” biohazardous waste costume, to near universal acclaim. Anyhoo, very little point to the story, but it amuses me.

      1. Okay*

        In grad school I went to a party where someone was dressed as the BP oil spill. aka they wore a black garbage bag as a dress and had fake seaweed in their hair.

    14. ChemistryChick*

      Costume wearer here!

      I work for a small R&D company in the US. My role is very rarely client facing, but I always make sure my costume doesn’t affect my safety/ability to work. I mostly stick to SFX makeup/face paint with an outfit that fits my costume theme. For example, one year I was a Pokemon. It’s totally voluntary, and no one is shamed or called out for whether they dress up or not. Sometimes we have a potluck, sometimes we don’t, just depends on how busy we are.

    15. Kella*

      I worked as a cashier at a grocery store and we were encouraged to dress up on halloween (with some rules and limitations of course). We actually had a costume contest among staff, where even if you weren’t working on halloween you could come in and get your photograph taken, and then the staff would vote on their favorite costumes. Winners usually got gift cards to the store. It was a fun thing! I dressed up as my manager one year (she loved it) and I really should’ve won.

    16. Beverly*

      I work at a very casual office with no client interaction, where most of the people have been in their roles for 10+ years. We have a yearly costume contest (with pizza, prizes, etc.) though no one really goes “all out.” Most people either wear normal clothes, normal clothes with a little bit of Halloween (like ears or a seasonal shirt), or do something closer to Disneybounding. The people who are most serious about their costumes usually put them on for the contest and take them off after. But we are a very casual office!

    17. Sylvia*

      I work for a large health insurance company. We’re probably about a 50/50 divide between call center employees and regular office staff. Dressing up for Halloween is definitely common and officially encouraged. There’s even official departmental and company costume contests. (The contests are held through photos on Yammer, not in-person parade style.)

      It’s part of an overall laidback culture. We also have regular employee fairs, food truck rodeos, official budgets for department events, a Spirit Week, and so forth. (Also real benefits like flextime and paid parental leave, for the record.)

      1. MediQueen*

        Currently writing this in my parrot costume at what sounds like a very similar large health insurance company, with similar benefits!

    18. Gem*

      On Halloween costumes: I work at a large hospital. The administration and especially upper management is definitely expected to dress up, and a lot of people go all out (nothing scary or sexy, no weapons or fake blood allowed), even though we might not even see patients that day (There are events, but usually not during the 9-5 shift). I usually just wear normal business casual clothes and convert them to a witch outfit with a hat and gloves or other accessories because I’m at my desk all day and want to be comfortable. I don’t mean to be rude, but I resent the implication that jobs where people dress up are less professional than jobs where people don’t. It’s more to do with the culture and the expectations of senior management.

      1. Maria Lopez*

        I worked at a large hospital medical center, and almost everyone dresses up to some extent, even if it was just bat earrings or a Halloween t-shirt. At lunchtime there is a contest for best pumpkin carving. Not just a typical Jack-o-lantern face. There were hospital ERs in diorama style, pumpkins on IV poles dressed like patients ambulance pumpkins. The creativity is amazing. I’m going tomorrow even though I’m retired just for that.

      2. Kelsey*

        I worked for a Medicaid call center in Oregon that went ALL. OUT. and clearly has for decades. The entire building (9 floors) decorated by floor AND people dressed up and there was fierce competition to be the winner. The only prize was personal pride. Since all of our work was phone/desk work and not customer facing, it impacted our policyholders none. But it really brightened the weeks before and built community in a workplace that could get very heavy helping (and sometimes not being able to help) people living through very tough and unfortunate circumstances. The office was very PC and did not celebrate Christmas in a big way. Health needs never stop and people were often cranky having to work the big holidays. So I think Halloween was a chance to all celebrate together non-religiously.

      3. RabbitRabbit*

        Probably fewer people than where you work, but a significant number of people dress up at my hospital/medical center as well.

    19. Llama Face!*

      We don’t dress up for Halloween at my current place of employment and are specifically forbidden to do so.

      However at previous workplaces- including a notoriously conservative insurance company- we were encouraged to do so and there were prizes for best costume. It had to be a work-appropriate costume that wouldn’t be too awkward or bulky to do your job properly.

      If we were allowed to dress up at my current workplace I would absolutely do it; I missed out on many years of costume wearing as a child for family reasons and would have so much fun with it if I could. Part of the fun would be inventing creative dress-code appropriate work costumes.

    20. SQL Coder Cat*

      I work in the IT department for a major medical university. We’ve got a strong geek culture, and I’d say about 20% of folks dress up. There’s no official event or pressure to participate or not as long as you abide by the dress code. Personally, I’ve spent over 100 hours designing and sewing a steampunk costume for cons and love having another chance to show it off!

      1. Kimmybear*

        I work in IT and at a previous company only a few people dressed up one year and there was a scolding email that more people didn’t show company spirit. Got a few raised eyebrows.

    21. Maggie Simpson*

      I work in the fashion industry and people definitely dress up — but more fashiony costumes or dramatic makeup looks (think like YouTube beauty gurus). The idea is to do something clever/trendy/stylish and well done. My go to is typically Cher from Clueless in the yellow plaid suit — still appropriate for any last minute meetings with our equally casual clients that might pop up.

    22. Diahann Carroll*

      Yeah, sorry Alison, but you’re off base with #4. I’ve worked for companies in industries that are super fast paced (law, insurance, and transportation, though the latter not so much as the first two) where employees absolutely considered their jobs as CAREERS, and a lot of the teams/departments/divisions encouraged dressing for Halloween. They considered it morale building in certain areas of the company where morale is typically low (e.g., claims, paralegal/legal support) due to overwork and long hours. My last company even had costume contests that gave out pretty neat prizes. I never participated because all of my costumes would be NSFW (nothing sexual, just graphic and gorey), but I did decorate my cube at a couple of workplaces during rare moments of downtime, and it was very fun. I’m a creative who was working in fields at the time that were not remotely creative, so getting to do arts and crafts every day for 20 minutes at a time to decorate my desk was a nice outlet for me.

      My mom is also in a career job in the insurance industry, and she and her department also go all out with the decorations for their Halloween party. My mom brings in super sized spiders, killer clowns, ghouls and zombies, the whole works, and her cubicle is always voted #1. Again, they work in a fast paced, super stressful environment, so I think they appreciate the break to be silly from time to time.

      1. Engineer Girl*

        It might be more of a high level profession Vs non professional. The office people wear costumes but the doctor doesn’t. The paralegal wears costumes but the partners don’t. The admins wear costumes but the engineers don’t (usually).
        Also, the more junior people are more likely to wear costumes than the senior ones.

        1. Loose Seal*

          As my sister once told me, there’s nothing professional about doing a multi-million dollar loan closing while dressed as Frankenstein’s monster complete with bolts coming out of your neck (as she learned from a rather humiliating experience early in her career). I would imagine doctors feel the same way — it would be hard to give a patient bad news while dressed as a sparkling fairy or as one of the Charmin bears. So that’s probably a large reason for the costume cutoff between support staff and the professional staff.

        2. HelloHello*

          My guess would be it’s less dependent on level and more on whether you’re client/outside interest facing or not. Doctors and lawyers might not want to risk a patient or client being put off by a costume, but my company’s engineering department is among the most likely to dress up, especially the people running the department.

            1. AnotherAlison*

              My large engineering firm used to have a department costume contest. I had worked at a different large firm for the first 5 years after college, and it was definitely not a thing there. The company that did dress up was younger and smaller. Now, 15 years later, the costume contest is no longer a thing. I’m pretty sure people don’t dress up anymore, but I’ll have to look around today. They do a trick-or-treating thing for employee’s kids, and sometimes those employees dress up with their kids.

              I have never dressed up. Hard enough to be taken seriously as a female.

          1. Maggie*

            HelloHello, I think it’s client-facing AND whether your office has a larger/later holiday celebration. In insurance and medical fields, someone has to be there every day but everyone wants the time off. We’d be spread thin and we’d all be separated for nearly 2 weeks, so doing a big Halloween thing worked better for staff morale. Everyone was always there because no one is driving 5 hours to their mother-in-law’s for Halloween.

          2. RabbitRabbit*

            At the medical center where I work, clinic receptionists are frequently dressed up (very client-facing), while those with more serious and/or hygiene-intense jobs may only have a Halloween tie or “spooky scrubs” or something. It’s certainly not everyone who does it, but it’s enough to show some personality among the staff.
            And of course Peds tends to go in heavy with this. We even have costume-wearing volunteers (staff and otherwise) who go to the inpatient rooms on the Pediatrics floor to hand out candy and gifts to the poor kids who are stuck in the hospital on such a kid-important day.

        3. JSPA*

          Doctors often do, though, in my experience. They face the same challenges as nurses to keep the costumes safe, as far as spreading germs, but they do dress (and no, it’s not particularly gendered, either). I do agree that engineers often don’t, but I figured that was more about the mindset than a status thing.

          1. Ktelzbeth*

            I second JSPA’s observation that doctors dress up, though I can only speak for sure about pediatric hospitals.

          2. Sharkie*

            Yep, I had an appointment this morning and the doctor had a wizard hat on and a tie with wands on it.

          3. Holly*

            My partner, who is a doctor, often dresses up as “Web MD” (spiderman accessories on top of his scrubs)

        4. Diahann Carroll*

          Maybe, but the partners at the firm I worked for dressed up since they were rarely client facing (their costumes weren’t super elaborate either). And very senior people at a lot of my workplaces also dressed up or did an elaborate decoration setup at their cubicle.

        5. Pommette!*

          It’s (surprisingly, to me) common for doctors, nurse practitioners, and other people in specialized healthcare professions to wear costumes. It’s a big part of the culture in many hospitals and clinics, and seems to be a morale/team spirit thing.
          I’ve gotten into a debate with a good friend who didn’t see why it might be weird for a patient to receive a serious diagnostic from someone dressed up as a spider lady.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            I would love this, too. In fact, I would appreciate anything silly if the doctor was giving me bad medical news – I’d at least get a chuckle over the absurdity of it all, lol.

            1. Pommette!*

              Haha, I can see that perspective.
              She had to have a lot of awkward conversations as part of her work, and that was pretty much her take as well.

        6. Lav Superstar*

          I’m an engineer, doing engineering work, in an engineering office (definitely a career and not a job) and yet I dress up and I am not the only one. I worked in an office once where the VP of engineering once wore a costume! These are usually small costumes, with accessories instead of a full-body costume, but it is a costume nonetheless! Not everyone is dressed up, but no one looks badly upon the ones who are dressed.

        7. Close Bracket*

          Semi-senior engineer wearing a costume right here! Maybe I’m just the exception that proves the rule, and my costume is barely distinguishable from regular office wear. That’s sort of my style, though. I’m going to wear the same thing Saturday night with more make-up.

        8. DrRat*

          Yeah, I would disagree with this. I have seen the Chief of Staff at a large hospital dressed up, an airplane pilot and full flight crew with devil horns, etc. Plenty of MDs, PhDs, JDs, etc. It’s more about the particular company/hospital/clinic culture, as well as who is doing what that day. Have I dressed up for Halloween at work? Yes. That day I had to give a talk to an audience that included the governor, if it happened to fall on Halloween? No.

      2. CU Attorney*

        I agree, I work in a large credit union at the corporate headquarters and 50% dress up. Some teams do group costumes and some have contests. Our average employee has been here 10 years, and that’s only because we are growing so fast and that brings the number down. It seems to me it is more related to general formality or the office, and maybe location.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Yup – formality, location, and whether or not the people are client facing seem to be the deciding factor as to whether or not people dress up for Halloween in my experience.

    23. Danielle*

      I have only worked in the nonprofit sector, and dressing up for Halloween (in an appropriate way) is often encouraged. I currently work in a community foundation (charitable bank) and while we must normally dress somewhat conservatively, Halloween is celebrated with costumes and and afternoon dessert treats. Dressing up can definitely be for professionals!

      1. many bells down*

        I work for two different nonprofits – a museum and a church – and the museum encourages dressing up for most of October!

        No one really dresses up at the church but they haven’t told me NOT to and I’ve been wearing low-key costumes all week.

      2. huh*

        Non-profit worker here too and have never worked anywhere where people wore costumes to work (five different non-profit orgs). I don’t think it’s a non-profit thing particularly.

      3. ashie*

        I’ve always been in nonprofits too and everywhere I’ve ever worked it’s been allowed and encouraged. (Not at my current company, though. Very disappointing!)

    24. Naomi*

      I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a lot of this at tech companies, which already tend to have a relaxed dress code and a casual atmosphere. (My current job is 100% remote, but if we had an office I would probably be fine wearing a costume to work.)

      I also know someone who works with robots and puts a Halloween costume on a robot every year! It’s very cute.

      1. robot*

        I work in tech at one of the very large tech companies. Definitely people dress up, in part because of what you’re saying about relaxed dress code and casual atmosphere. I think the main part however is that for many of the software engineers and other people who primarily work with the engineers, they don’t have a lot of client-facing interaction. You might have a few meetings on Halloween, but they’ll probably be with your own coworkers, so it’s not such a big deal.

      2. Engineer Woman*

        Yep, I’ve worked at a few SF Bay Area tech companies and dressing up for Halloween can be a Thing – including contests – not only for the engineering groups but across the companies as a whole.

      3. Mystery Bookworm*

        Yes, I worked at such an office in the Bay Area and not only did people dress up, but departments had themes and competitions. We’ve even had departments do skits and such.

        It is definitely the sort of white collar work that people think of as their ‘career’ — I think it was more about cultivating a certain kind of fun culture.

        Not everyone dressed up though, and people weren’t required to (and, at least in my department, weren’t shamed for not doing so, although I don’t know about other departments).

      4. today, I'm Miraculous Ladybug from a children's show*

        Can confirm! I work for a small tech start-up in NYC and last year almost everyone dressed up. It’s such a chill atmosphere (no dress code, founders had to be convinced not to wear sweatpants to talk to investors) that nobody would bat an eye. There is an understanding that your costume should be pretty chill, though, like not a full gown or something that would get in the way of you getting your work done.

      5. Woman in tech*

        Yes, I work in tech in a Fortune 500, and we do have a (voluntary) costume contest. I think if we were customer/vendor facing, we would not allow costumes.

    25. Danielle*

      I have only worked in the nonprofit sector, and dressing up for Halloween (in an appropriate way) is often encouraged. I currently work in a community foundation (charitable bank) and while we must normally dress somewhat conservatively, Halloween is celebrated with costumes and afternoon dessert treats. Dressing up can definitely be for professionals!

    26. Heidi*

      I do work in a hospital, and each department is supposed to have a unifying theme. This year our floor was supposed to be 101 Dalmatians, but yesterday someone was trying to change it to the 1970’s. This was almost certainly too last minute to get to everyone, so the floor is going to probably be a bizarre mix of disco and Dalmatians. Halloween is the best.

    27. Loose Seal*

      When I worked as a bank teller, we were strongly encouraged to wear costumes (but they didn’t make things weird for those who didn’t want to, like our teller who was a Jehovah’s Witness). So much so that they had contests with really good prizes. For instance, if you won the overall best costume, the prize was a personal day off to be used in the next 6 months. The prize for best team costume (like if the tellers dressed as a theme or the loan department, etc.) was lunch catered in for that team.

      In my branch, I was in charge of security (not as a guard but in charge of things like rotating our “all clear” signal and making sure everyone was up to date on their security training) and so it was my job to make sure costumes didn’t make security more difficult. So I would post a sign on the door saying that adult customers had to remove masks and head gear prior to entering, for obvious reasons. And I wouldn’t let employees wear masks or hoods or full face paint or prosthetics like gashes or bullet wounds. They could wear tiaras or antenna or anything that was basically just a decorated headband.

      And the reasons for this costume encouragement were centered around community engagement. All of the preschools in the town brought their children to trick or treat during the workday so we had between 6 and 10 groups of adorable young kids coming by for candy. And we were part of the town’s Halloween celebration* that was held in the area where our branch was and ran from 5pm to about 8pm (on the clock if you were an hourly employee so we would get longer lunch breaks that whole week to keep our hours under 40. Another bonus.) So it helped that we were already dressed for that.

      *As part of the town”s Business Association, each business was responsible for a different part of the celebration as well as handing out candy as kids came by trick or treating. So some businesses ran bobbing for apples competitions. Another ran the costume contests. We ran a scream contest. Another organized a mini parade down Main St. It was a great representation of small town America and I loved it.

      1. Lizzy May*

        My experience as a bank teller was very similar. Most of the staff dressed up but we didn’t cover our faces, no gore and the financial officers who had hour long meetings tended to wear things that could be taken off for the meetings. It was fun and the clients loved it.

    28. Charlisaurus*

      I worked for years at a management consultancy in Boston, though one where most of the work was done from our offices rather than the client’s office (market research, etc.) . We would never have dressed up if going to a client site, but for the ~60% of people who were working in the home office, many dressed up for the second half of the day. Usually there was beer and snacks toward the end of the workday and most years there was even a costume contest.

      The costumes sometimes got elaborate (one year someone went as Fenway’s “green monster” — the left-field of the stadium, not the furry mascot) but were never risque.

      1. Charlisaurus*

        oh! and people would bring their kids in to do “trick or treating” around the cubes. Now that I think harder about it, it’s entirely possible management tried to make Halloween in the office fun so that parents wouldn’t feel like they should / could leave the office to experience it with their kids.

    29. katiecombat*

      People at my office tend to go all out for Halloween (think: colored contacts, elaborate makeup, homemade costumes). I work at a very fast-paced tech company in Atlanta.

    30. Rose Red*

      #4: It’s normal for people to dress up in my industry, anywhere from festive t-shirts to full costumes with wigs and makeup. That said, we work in a creative media field where people wear sweatpants to work without raising any eyebrows. The two companies I’ve worked for also happened to have big halloween celebrations over lunch– The office gets decorated, the company provides snacks, people bring their kids, there’s a costume contest that encourages skits, etc…. But we also have to treat it like a normal work day (the deadlines don’t move)– just in costume, with a long, weird lunch. As you might imagine, people don’t end up being particularly productive, but there’s an attempt.

      (It seems like big companies in my industry love to throw flashy celebrations at the drop of a hat, I assume to boost morale and provide content for the company social media. There’s an air of cynicism over everything, but at least on Halloween it’s easier to ignore because it’s an actual holiday that people want to celebrate, haha.)

      1. NYWeasel*

        The majority of companies I’ve worked for in my career encourage dressing up. Last year we held a global workshop at our office, and multiple directors were wearing costumes and allowed the meeting to pause so we could see all of the costumes go by in a parade. (Note-this is the third company that not only encourages costumes, but also has an official way to share them with everyone). That said, I didn’t put any energy into a costume this year, and I’m not worried—no one is penalized for not participating either.

    31. Turquoisecow*

      My longest job was in the corporate office for a retail store in the Northeast US. Not a major city, but a more urban suburb. Some people in my office dressed up for Halloween, and maybe one or two people went for pretty elaborate costumes, but most people who did dress up were pretty low key, like just wore cat ears and a black shirt, or a sports jersey or something, and I think the vast majority of us didn’t wear anything. It wasn’t specifically prohibited, but the company didn’t really encourage it either

      FWIW I think a lot of the people who do wear costumes either have kids, so they’re going to go trick-or-treating after work, or maybe have plans to go to a party later. Otherwise, it’s not really worth it for most people to bother to wear a costume when they’re just going to work.

    32. Phil*

      I’d say, if not working with children, it’s places that have younger or more liberal employees. My workplace has such personnel, and while only a few tend to do it, it’s especially notable because I’m in Australia where most of us still think it’s a stupid holiday.*

      * Tongue-in-cheek, don’t @ me

      1. Mystery Bookworm*

        I’m not sure what’s like in Australia, but I’m a US transplant who now lives in the UK. It seems like a lot of the worst parts of Halloween have gotten exported, like: heavy drinking, ironic “slutty” costumes, giant parties.

        I’m not saying those things are bad, but the BEST part of Halloween to me was always that it seemed, first and foremost, like a holiday for children. Trick or treating and costumes are SO FUN when you’re seven and it’s such a heady amount of power for children to be running around after dark. England doesn’t seem to have much of that, which I think is a shame, because it’s the sweetest part.

        1. Media Monkey*

          they do where we live (South east, about 50 miles from London). and as a kid in scotland we always went guising (trick or treating but we never called it that – the name makes me think it is more closely related to 5th nov/ fireworks/ guy fawkes night tho).

        2. Grace*

          Kids going out in costumes is the original All Hallows’ Eve, the one the UK has always had – guising in Scotland and the north, I’m not sure about elsewhere – but we’ve always had that. It’s not an import.

          The imported aspect has been the Americanised Halloween – adult Halloween parties, sexy costumes, etc. That’s what’s become more popular in the last decade or so, and that’s what people complain about when they talk about the UK adopting too many American customs. Children going around houses in costumes and singing songs or reciting poems in exchange for sweets is something that the UK has always had.

        3. Amy Sly*

          Trick or treating and costumes are SO FUN when you’re seven and it’s such a heady amount of power for children to be running around after dark. England doesn’t seem to have much of that, which I think is a shame, because it’s the sweetest part.

          True, but that aspect of the holiday is the next week with Guy Fawkes Day.

        4. Diahann Carroll*

          Trick or treating is fun regardless of age (says the woman who went trick or treating all the way up until her sophomore year of college).

    33. Ellen N.*

      I worked at a entertainment business management (managing the personal finances of clients who work in the entertainment industry) for four years.

      Halloween costumes were not only permitted; they were encouraged. The partners dressed up. There was a prize for best costume and one for best decorated cubicle. It was so much fun.

      Some of the best costumes: Lady Gaga, Otcomom, a Venice Beach street performer (bathrobe, turban, roller blades).

      1. Patty Mayonnaise*

        Most of my experience was in the entertainment industry and people definitely dressed up – we had costume contests and baking contests too. But participation varied from completely-decked-out to nothing (it wasn’t a big deal either way). Some of us dressed up as characters from our own properties, others didn’t. I’m freelance now and I miss this!

      2. theothermadeline*

        Nonprofit theater management over here. Today our entire department is dressed as character from a show we just hosted for an off-site festival.

    34. Hallownope*

      Oof. My work (with vulnerable older adults) is also very into Halloween. I tried to get in the spirit and wore a costume one year. I had a long discussion about potential elder abuse dressed as a cactus. Never again.

      1. Hallownope*

        Also: US west coast city, government social services, definitely a huge volume of work, and lots of long-term, serious employees. My only explanation for it is it lightens up a very tough job, but… then you risk having my experience.

    35. I AM a lawyer.*

      I’m a lawyer, and we were told we could dress up for Halloween. I’m wearing a headband with ears, not a whole costume.

    36. Zombeyonce*

      I’ve worked in many places where people dressed up, from the animal onesies in IT, the fleet of phlebotomists in vampire attire in clinics, and retail where it was a free for all. I even dressed up as my boss one year when in retail and won the costume contest.

      1. Auntie Social*

        My SIL is a phlebotomist. She dresses up her doxie in a black cape so that once a year he’s a “blood hound”.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          I love that idea, too. This whole thread makes me want to go out and buy a last minute costume to work in for the rest of the day.

    37. Viva*

      I work in food service and we are encouraged to dress up. The general guidelines are keep it PG-ish and sensible for the work environment, and everyone needs to wear their uniform shoes for safety reasons. We usually have candy for the trick or treaters and everyone has a good time.

    38. The Rat-Catcher*

      I work for a state child welfare agency. Dressing up is an option, but really depends on the work being done that day. For example, I’m a trainer who does not have a training class today, so it wouldn’t matter a bit to anyone if I dressed like a pirate. However, someone who has to do meetings or visits probably would not participate (or, they might be a pirate in a black dress with a hat, so that for the visits or meetings they had on the black dress).

    39. A Steampunk Kinda Gal*

      I work at a nonprofit organization, and we are encouraged to dress up for Halloween. We have done this for the past thirty-plus years I’ve worked here. Back when we shared an office building with other companies, we even trick-or-treated them at second break. Now, we go out and watch the parade from the elementary school on our block and then have a party. Pumpkin carving optional.

    40. Busted biscuits*

      I work in a hotel and this year, for the first time, we are encouraged to wear costumes and there is even a contest. We have already been instructed that they need to be workplace-appropriate. I can’t wait to see what people are doing! Personally, I am going as a coworker—not like in that one letter from a few years ago where the subject of the costume was so hurt she never came back to work though. This is someone I am friendly with, whom I am sure will get a laugh out of my funny-but-not-mean portrayal of him.

    41. West Coast Reader*

      West Coast Canada here. I worked at a startup and a non-profit, and there were many amazing costumes.

    42. OrganizedHRChaos*

      My company goes all out and holds contests for costume and cubicle decorations. We do various things monthly and either cater meals or grill meats/ non-meats and have sides. I wish we could upload photos here. I would love to show a picture of my costume for 2017 when I went as a zombie nurse. Won $300 top prize. I scared myself. Haha We are an online call center with around 150 employees.

    43. HelloHello*

      I work in an office in silicon valley and every year I’d say about 1/3 to 1/2 of our office will come in costume. Nothing super over the top or elaborate, but in the past we’ve had witches, plenty of animal costumes, some Harry Potter characters, a Katniss from the Hunger Games, and once a very memorable group in Fraggle rock costumes.

    44. Paperdill*

      I used to work in a children’s hospital, as a nurse. Many of the staff members would dress up. Costumes would, obviously, have to allow us to safely do our job, or be easily removable in emergencies, etc. Often, for the nurses it was just something like a funny hat/headband.

    45. My Willie Wonka hat is ready to go*

      Engineering & manufacturing…. We design, market, and build at this site and others.
      Costume contest is back after a hiatus of afew years after we were acquired by a Fortune 100 company. Contest is smaller than it was before, but some people never stopped dressing up a bit.
      Costumes must meet safety regulations so for example, loose mummy wraps are a no-go on the factory floor. Masks & full face paint strongly discouraged because we must be recognized against our badges. (My favorite costume yet was the co-worker who came AS his badge, and still attached his badge to the outside. No he didn’t wear it except at the contest.)
      We’ve been working at highstress for years — too Lean and with budget restrictions — so the Powers That Be encourage us to have fun where we can make it.
      No participation is required for any of this, just tolerance of co-worker antics.

      1. I look ridiculous on purpose*

        Similar industry- I dress up every year (engineering/programming), although I’m the only one at the company who does. People think it’s either weird, hilarious, or both.

        I might be a bit of an edge case, since I’m willing to use some political capital to dress in a green wig and dragon ears one day a year, but fortunately my boss thinks it’s funny.

        (Completely dressed up today, even though we have customers here. I’m also the only one dressed up. No shame!)

    46. Beth*

      The job I had where Halloween costumes were most a thing was at a company that 1) ran very young (a lot of people in our 20s) and 2) worked real hard to create a startup-culture “work is your job, but also your social group, and also maybe just your whole life!” type vibe (they were not a startup or a small business). They were big on any kind of potential team-building activity, so dressing up for Halloween was super in line with the culture.

    47. Poppy the Flower*

      I’m a pediatrician and I’ve always dressed up at work. My current hospital is REALLY into Halloween and you’d stand out more if you don’t dress up. We also have other costume days. But it’s a children’s hospital so I think it fits culturally. At my last hospital, also a children’s hospital, people did more of the headband/hat variety of costume.

    48. RedInSC*

      Hi, I’ve been dressing up for Halloween for work for the past 20 years. Both in high tech and non profit.

      These are all fast paced busy, stressful jobs/companies that use it as team building and a chance to hang out with ones co-workers.

      Tomorrow, my teammates and I are dressing as super heroes and villains, to go with a company-wide marketing theme. I’m on the west coast in CA and have been working in silicon valley.

      1. zora*

        This seems like a good one to tag onto, San Francisco is just generally super into costumes, and tons of people here dress up for Halloween, in all kinds of industries.

        Just walking to work today in the Financial District, which is the most conservative business neighborhood, I saw a couple dozen costumes, from animal onesies to wigs/makeup, all kinds of things. And those were only the ones you can see outside of people’s coats. I’m wearing a costume, but it’s kind of subtle, so you couldn’t tell from seeing me in my jacket, but it’s obvious in the office. (I’m a unicorn with a fuzzy sweater and a unicorn headband). And about 5 of us in my office of 20 dressed up this week.

        When I worked in the SoMa neighborhood I saw a ton more costumes on and around Halloween.

    49. Sour Mash*

      I work in a med/large sized law firm in a city in the north of England. We started doing Halloween dress up a few years ago. Quite a lot of people get into the spirit! We even have prizes for the best dresses person and best dressed department!

    50. RG*

      Hmm, so I’m in Houston, but dressing up has been encouraged at every place I’ve worked after graduating – at a law firm and two tech companies.

      Actually, now that I think about it, at my on campus job during college, the different finance departments would dress up too.

    51. cg*

      i work at a very large healthcare company (i’m in finance, specifically) and people wore some pretty wild costumes, including some very ostentatious crossdressing (which i feel eeeehh about since the company’s diversity record isn’t great, but you know) and character costumes complete with wigs–but a lot of people waited until the halloween party at the end of the day (within work hours, but later) to change into them.

      i’m still new so i wore a mildly-offbeat-at-best outfit (which is most of my outfits so that wasn’t weird) with a whimsical witch hat fascinator i could remove if i realized i overstepped… people asked what my costume was and i told them “girl who wasn’t sure how intense we were going to get and wanted to participate but not accidentally look crazy”

      1. Hepzibah Pflurge*

        That’s exactly where I landed this year. I’m in a Halloween t-shirt and a not-too-crazy wig. PARTICIPATION

        I’m at a corporate office attached to a warehouse (so not Class A office space, but casual corporate). A handful of people wore costumes, but more people decorated their cubes. Typical for this place, the costumes/decor is supposed to be “team-building”, but no one above a certain level participates. Then they wonder why so few people join in. UGH

    52. AnonFormerVetGirl*

      LW4: I’ve seen A LOT of people dress up in veterinary offices. Not just general practices, where you may mostly see “well patients” in a day, but also critical care (ICU), emergency rooms and other specialties. I never did it for a number of reasonA: 1. Vet med has a 100% casualty rate. Why anyone would wear clothing that could impede work or something baffled me. 2. It’s almost unfathomably unprofessional to have a serious conversation about a pet’s serious illness or injury, or humane euthanasia while dressed up as anything other than a veterinarian or veterinary technician or receptionist.
      I cannot believe that Halloween costumes were not banned from anyplace I ever worked.
      (PS. I saw costumes in a variety of cities east of the Mississippi.)

    53. Alice's Rabbit*

      My husband’s company has Halloween costume contests every year, and invites employees to bring in their kids after school for in-office trick-or-treating. He works in software development.
      I know not every office does this, but it’s becoming more and more common.

    54. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

      I’m in the UK and we get dressed up for Halloween, Christmas, Children In Need and Red Nose Day, as well as more subtly on Wear It Pink etc. These are considered charity days – there are raffles and everyone donates £1. There are often prizes for the best team costume/desk decoration.
      It forms part of our Employee Engagement – you may interpret that however you wish!

    55. Akcipitrokulo*

      Worked in IT for a consultancy firm – UK office about 100 people (also offices in EU, US & Asia but don’t know about them).

      I’d say most people saw it as a career rather than a job, and it was really a good place to work: trusted to do a good job, clear expectations, feeling you were contributing to overall company goals, room to grow, emphasis on devrlopment and good feedback.

      We did an absolutely voluntary hallowe’en costume competition. First year we thought might be a flop, but even though only a few people did it (about half of social committee who organised it, one of directors and CEO wore a pointy hat) it was fun.

      After that, usually about 20 people did it – there was a routine “take 15 min to have a break and meet people from other departments if you want to – we provide cake!” event once a week, so winner was announced at it.

    56. Ruth (UK)*

      I am in the UK and have honestly never come across costumes in the workplace… Or even in the daytime at all. Halloween is growing here cause of American shows and the internet I guess but when I was a kid, trick or treating wasn’t really a thing either. I have an American parent so I knew about it. Me and some friends tried to do it once but (even though we only knocked on houses with some form of decoration… Which by the way was super hard to find) a lot of the people who answered were baffled. This was in the mid/late 90s by the way.

      Also in the UK, everyone is busy gearing up for guy Fawkes / bonfire night which is only a few days later. I know of a lot of bonfire events happening near me this weekend and next

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        When I was kid (Scotland) we didn’t do trick or treating – but we definitely did guising which was a very big thing!

        (similar to t&t in that you dress you go to houses and get sweeties – but no tricks – you have to perform for your reward! Usually you get a dozen versions of a hallowe’en song that they learned in school or a joke ;)

        When I lived in England for a while, I heard one kid say to another “you need to tell a joke if you go there but it’s worth it because she gives you lots!”)

        1. ceiswyn*

          I loved guising! At the point where I was growing out of it, though, it had started to be replaced by trick or treating. I’m still sad about this.

        2. wittyrepartee*

          As a note- I’ve never performed a trick or seen one performed. It’s an empty threat. If your house was going to get tossed with toilet paper, it was going to happen whether or not you handed out candy.

      2. Akcipitrokulo*

        (It was big thing when I was kid in 70s/80s, and always got kids round when I was adult too.)

      3. TechWorker*

        Must vary by region – late 90s and through the 00s for me trick or treating was definitely a thing!

      4. londonedit*

        Same here (southern England). Trick or treating is now a pretty big thing, and people do take their kids out in organised groups in the early evening, but when I was growing up (80s/90s) it really wasn’t a thing at all, and people were actually quite actively opposed to trick or treating as it was mainly used by teenagers as an excuse to go out and harass people into giving them money, and if they refused then they’d probably get eggs and flour thrown at their houses. I spent a bit of time in the US with my family as a child, where Halloween was obviously huge, and when we moved back to the UK we tried to do Halloween parties/trick or treating a couple of times but no one was interested and people were indeed quite baffled by the concept. Guy Fawkes Night was a much bigger deal, with bonfires and fireworks displays (and it still is a big deal – I know of at least four big organised fireworks displays in my local area, some this weekend and some on the 5th itself).

      5. Liza*

        Yes, same here. I remember being about 10 years old (mid-90s) and the whole school receiving a lecture about how terrible Trick or Treating was because nobody understood and it was scaring the old people who were alone in their homes. I do think she had a point because, for the most part, it really wasn’t a thing here. Now we get organised groups of supervised, younger kids and it’s more of an accepted practice. I still don’t think we hold a torch to the American traditions though, although I sometimes suspect the all-out parties we see in popular culture are somewhat exaggerated, like a sort of spooky Hallmark Christmas.

      6. raincoatpocket*

        I’m American living/working in the UK (support staff in academia), and rather than be continually disappointed by the lack of Halloween in the UK, I bought myself a themed dress I could wear to work (very similar to this one https://ae01.alicdn.com/kf/HTB1OqaWXcnrK1RjSspkq6yuvXXaX/Halloween-Vintage-Dress-Women-Pumpkin-Print-Patchwork-Midi-Autumn-Winter-Dresses-Long-Sleeve-Elegant-Party-Dress.jpg) with black & orange nail polish and black & orange striped tights, and I bring in candy for the office. No one else does anything – but they do like the free candy! Makes this little immigrant happy.

    57. everydaycrises*

      I’m in the UK, and our office/company does a Halloween celebration.
      Not just dressing up, but costume competitions (best individual, best team, best homemade) and pumpkin carving. We’ve had auditors and clients judge if they were in the office!
      The company has a ‘work hard /play hard ‘ culture, so it is very busy lots of deadlines, and everyone is encouraged to think of it as a career (example, the customer support teams on phones, they get training to move into tech roles if they want, or management). But there is a budget for fun things, and wellness stuff (life coaches, nutritionists, fitness classes).
      We’re a tech company, so I suppose it is less traditional than something like banking or law.

    58. TechWorker*

      I have never dressed up for Halloween. Our office manager arranged a pumpkin carving competition the last couple of years and this year has escalated to encouraging people to dress up. I think that a) she will dress up b) barely anyone else will (we’re mostly cynical British tech folk and busy management..) and c) she will be disappointed that people didn’t join in. Hey ho….

    59. Petty Editor*

      I work in a Fortune 100 company in the healthcare industry – we definitely do Halloween dress up events with gift card prizes supplied by the company for individual and group costumes. The company executive management team does a reverse trick or treat, dressing in themed costumes like superheroes and distributing snacks to all the employees at their cubicles and offices. Rules are announced at the start of October and everyone is encouraged to participate as they see fit, with explicit instruction to avoid cultural insensitivity (no white people dressing as Native American, for example) and no penalty for not participating.

    60. Gaming Teapot*

      Regarding dressing up for Halloween at work: I work in videogame testing, which is still an office job in many ways though definitely very unconventional. Our dress code is essentially “as casually as you want, so long as all important bits are covered and you’re not offending anyone”. The only people at our company who regularly where business casual are HR and finance. We have an after hours Halloween party at the office, organized by the company’s event committee every year, usually on the last Friday before Halloween, and for that day, dressing up is welcome and encouraged (we even have a costume and pumpkin contest), though not dressing up is fine as well. This year, there were about a dozen of us who actually came to work dressed up (including me) and probably three times as many people who brought their costumes in a bag and put them on as soon as official hours were over.

    61. Amethyst*

      I work in a satellite medical billing office and we dress up for Halloween. It’s completely optional to take part, and there’s a small prize ($10 gift card) for the best costume and runner-up.

      My job provides pizza for us for lunch; we have a sign-up sheet of who’ll bring the sodas, desserts, salad, etc. It’s a nice thing that breaks up the monotony of our day.

    62. Former Scientist*

      I dressed up for Halloween at my last job, as did several other people! It was a lab, but also a small company (15 employees or less), so even though we got quite busy, the dress code and hierarchy were more relaxed. It helps that if we needed to go into the lab, we put lab coats and shoe covers on over everything so it didn’t much matter what you wore underneath. And customers never visited without notice.

    63. QCI*

      My workplace, a large industrial manufacturer, encourages dressing up on Halloween and even has contest for different categories or costumes.The only caveat is the costume be appropriate to work in.

    64. Ralph Kramden*

      The most I ever do is wear a Halloween-themed tie. (Public transportation agency, back office.)

    65. Lisa Turtle*

      I work in finance at a children’s hospital(but not at the actual hospital so we do not get to see or interact with the kids at all) and we have a costume contest/food day every year. I never participate, but it is fun watching people dress up and get really competitive for the prizes, I think first place is like 50 bucks.

    66. Beth*

      I work in IT at a large university, and while not everyone dresses up, we’ll have more than a handful of people who come to work in costume on Halloween (myself included!). I see a lot of folks in Starfleet uniforms on Halloween in my building, haha.

    67. KatieHR*

      I am not the biggest fan of Halloween and don’t like to dress up. I used to work for a non-medical home came company in Pennsylvania and the whole office dressed up. The kicker was that if you didn’t want to dress up, they made you feel bad about it! It was so stupid and I hated every minute of it!

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        Yeah, that sucks. I loved dressjng up at old job – but loved even more that people could just watch others dressing up ot bypass whole thing if they wanted.

    68. Delta Delta*

      I’m a lawyer and today I have a very serious hearing, so too much Halloween would be inappropriate. But I’m wearing a dress and tights with a fun pattern on them – I feel like it strikes a good balance between professional and Halloween fun. I’ll say I’m going as the sky (the tights have stars on them).

    69. Koivu*

      I work at a large talent agency where Halloween is A Very Big Deal. Every department has to pick a theme and is given money to decorate their area – and when I say decorate, I mean cover every inch of the floor and walls. It’s also expected that every employee will dress up, and each department goes to great lengths to coordinate their costumes.

    70. This Daydreamer*

      Domestic violence shelter employee here. Dressing up here is acceptable and even encouraged a little bit. We try to be as approachable as possible and sometimes being a little bit silly helps.

    71. Non costumed employee*

      Halloween is probably the biggest holiday of the year in my office! Costumes are definitely encouraged and teams will coordinate costumes as a group. It’s not mandatory (I rarely do), but it’s very popular and lots of people participate. There is always a costume contest and snacks + social hour in the afternoon. People bring their kids in and trick or treat the cubes at lunch time even. Not an explicitly child-serving org or anything, just a West Coast non profit that happens to really be into Halloween I guess.

    72. Teapot Translator*

      I’ve worked in two non-profit organizations where there were best costumes contests. It’s a fun activity for those who like Halloween and I think it builds camaraderie? As long as it’s not compulsory.
      I’ve also worked for more corporate offices and Halloween was celebrated with candy. Mmm, sugar.
      I’m in Canada.

    73. Kate H*

      I’m currently adding the final touches to my Eddie Kaspbrak cosplay (from Chapter One) so I can wear it to work today! I’m in Ohio, working in the office of a manufacturing company. We’re a small company, between 50 and 100 employees, and it’s a yearly tradition. All levels participate–last year, our operations manager dressed up as Jon Snow.

    74. Jaid*

      I work for a Federal agency. With a few exceptions, the most anyone would wear are funny headbands, and light up accessories. I, personally, am wearing clip-on cat ears.

      The one exception is the MA in Human Resources dressed up as the Farside cartoon of the old lady looking for her lost puppy…complete with a Beanie Baby sized stuffed dog stuck to her butt with Velcro. Her boss is totally fine with it.

      But K. will dress up at the drop of a hat. She has a Santa costume, a bunny costume, and a leprechaun costume. It’s fun watching her at the train station when the little kids see her!

      1. Hey, your office building has an extra side*

        Same here with the federal agency. We do some pretty serious stuff day to day and people in costumes is just not done here on Halloween. I think people would feel it was disrespectful to some of the decisions being made in the building. But weirdly, we do go all out for Christmas?

    75. Panda M*

      Halloween got out of control and crazy competitive. Consumer products development/sales in California. Costume contests (group & individual) with management voting and giving prizes, cubicle decorating contests, catered lunch. The group costume contest got so competitive that teams started planning months in advance (like, around Christmas, no joke) and would start fake rumors about their team’s theme to throw off the competitors. One team had a professional costume designer do theirs each year (oh the outrage!). It eventually evolved into the teams performing a skit, song, or dance in order to win. One year my team practiced a song & dance for a month after work (off-site of course… secrecy) leading up to it. After about 10 years of escalating insanity and competitiveness the whole thing was scrapped because it had become such a distraction.

    76. Pickles*

      Fed in the midwest here. Currently dressed as a maester, but subtly enough I could brief a General if I needed to. Black shirt/pants, fancy grey poncho, raven ring, handmade necklace of multi-sized metals. Already got a thumbs up from a Game of Thrones fan, but someone else did a confused double take, probably because the necklace is much larger than I normally wear. And no blazer today.

      Was in class yesterday, and the building I was in held trick or treating for little kids. I was greeted by the mayor of Halloweentown and offered Butterfingers on my way out because they had more candy than kids (score!). The fire alarm going off was more entertaining than usual, with pirates and witches wandering around in the rain…but it was a little hard to concentrate on the class when the two year old screaming rhino charged down the hall.

      1. wittyrepartee*

        City employee in NYC. I’m spending today correcting people who think I’m a butterfly and telling them that I’m actually a luna moth.

        1. Long Tail*

          This is my Halloween curse – I love to put together costumes, but I always seem to choose personas the people around me don’t know! I joke that I really ought to make a PEDANT t-shirt…but that might stretch vocab recognition for the walk-around population…

    77. Staja*

      When I worked at a call center in downtown Boston, everyone dressed up in team costumes (we were garden gnomes one year!). The company was very young in demographics and tried to do a lot for employee morale (in the right ways). I’m currently in accounting at a software firm in NH. No one wears a full costume, but I’m wearing fun Halloween leggings under my dress today.

    78. Lynca*

      I work for a large state agency in the South. People dress up here and I know some of the offices have costume contests. But we have a large group of employees that can’t dress up because of their job responsibilities so this is generally limited to specific offices. Mine is one of them that allows it and as long as you have no external meetings, it’s fine. I’ve seen people in full costume before, not just headbands and festive shirts.

    79. Julie*

      I work in tech, and every job I’ve ever had (from a huge smartphone company all the way to smaller startups) has had a costume contest on Halloween. I honestly didn’t realize it was out of the norm! It’s always presented as totally optional, and nobody is ever pressured to dress up if it’s not their thing.

    80. Newington*

      #4 UK here. The only place I’ve seen people dress up for Halloween was a small charity for 16-25 year olds facing homelessness where I was temping for a few months – there were mixed levels of how seriously they took it, and nobody seemed to be judged for not participating. It was made clear in advance that you could do. I worked the front desk as a steampunk robot and it was fine.

      Before that, I worked at a media company with about 80 employees. One young American woman wore pointy ears; I assumed it was a US office culture thing. Nobody said a thing to her but we exchanged glances when she left the room, which is definitely a UK office culture thing.

      I’m now in a small company in a cool tech industry where ‘hipster’ is the unofficial dress code and nobody’s in Halloween costume, which suits me fine, although it would have been fun to have a go at “Boris Johnson’s corpse in a ditch”.

      1. londonedit*

        I can’t wait to see how many Boris Johnson guys there will be at Bonfire Night events this year…

    81. Asenath*

      I work on the admin side of things in a university. Among the admin staff, costumes are allowed, but aren’t all that common. A lot seems to depend on the personal preferences of the workers in each little section or department. In my area, we range from not dressing up at all (like me) to wearing small Halloween-themed ornaments, such as earrings or headgear. People in some other departments do more, and sometimes decorate their spaces as well, so you might see a few entrances from the main corridors decked in spiderwebs or something. There’s a Halloween lunch (I’m skipping it this year) and some people who attend put on full costumes even if they don’t wear all of it at their desks. And after Halloween, a lot of people bring in leftover (or extra) treats and leave them on the official You Can Eat Anything Left Here counter.

      1. NothingIsLittle*

        I’m an admin at one of the many Boston universities and it depends on the department here. I don’t think any of the departments go for full costumes (though that would be fun).

        In my department most people wear small Halloween accessories at most, and one wore a small witch’s hat. That said, I’d briefly planned to have a fake wound on my head (we’re a healthcare department, it was themed!) and got the go ahead for it before I realized how early I’d have to wake up to make it happen. Instead I’m wearing a cat print shirt with a cat for a collar and drew Halloween shapes on my face in eyeliner.

    82. ceiswyn*

      In my experience, Alison’s ‘hunch’ is… semi off-base?

      On the one hand, dressing up at work is common among people working in client-facing jobs in service industries (barista, checkout assistant) – I assume they’ve basically been told to do it by their higher–ups.

      On the other hand, VOLUNTARY dressing-up is something I associate with tech startups, which are usually filled with skilled career professionals who work insanely hard. Which is why I’m currently wearing a dinosaur onesie.

      What I don’t understand is this idea that dressing up in a costume necessarily involves having loads of spare time at work. What part of ‘wearing a costume’ is meant to be taking all this time?!

      1. curly sue*

        Right? I mean, I put on a shirt and pants every morning as it is, so where’s the extra time involved in putting on a silly or thematic shirt and pants? Unless it’s the ‘prep time’ issue, which I’ll concede, as I suppose most adults don’t have tickle trunks anymore.

        signed, an adult with an extensive tickle trunk

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Some costumes limit your mobility, or get uncomfortable after a few hours. Things that are worth it for a 2 hour party, but not 8-10 hours of work plus commute.

      3. Patty Mayonnaise*

        Yeah I agree with you – my fastest-paced and most career-focused workplace was the one that dressed up the most. I think job sector matters the most.

      4. Asenath*

        I expect it’s not wearing the costume that takes time from work (unless you have to change during the day into something more formal for a meeting). What takes time is the way everyone who approaches the costumed person seems to need to have a short conversation praising the costume and discussing their own (or why they’re not wearing one) and any other related activities that may be scheduled.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Nah, that still isn’t too time consuming. It’s 5-10 minutes at a time throughout the day if that.

    83. Mel_05*

      I work as a graphic designer. When I have worked for marketing companies it’s been an optional thing that most people done really do, but some people really get into. But client facing people usually are not allowed.

      When I was working for a financial institution, it was not a thing at all.

      Today my employer is having a carry-in Halloween party. My boss asked if I was dressing up and I said I might wear a funny headband. He seemed horrible that I might not have done anything so… could be interesting!

    84. Chris R*

      I work in software and the programming departments and other technical departments I’ve been in over the last 20 years have had at least some dressing up – in many, to the point of having costume contests, photos, etc. Not everybody participates (and level of participation varies hugely) but I’m a director now and am just about to put on fairy wings and grab a wand. We will take an hour this aft for costume contests, photos and candy. Everyone gets candy, costume or not :)

    85. Bree*

      Most places I’ve worked, it’s been just those small touches.

      The one place where people went full out was a small non-profit – staff of only 10 – and it was a long-standing tradition, with a contest and everything. We didn’t have many unplanned visitors, so it didn’t affect the work. To be honest, it was pretty fun! Candy, creativity, and a bit of a break after a busy part of the annual work cycle.

      The best costume was when a very pregnant colleague attached bloody doll hands to her stomach. Gave a courier quite a shock when she opened the door to accept a delivery!

    86. Iconic Bloomingdale*

      I work for a municipal governmental agency that has a large technology division (although I am not in IT). There is no official policy permitting Halloween costumes, but senior management is not averse to those who wear something appropriate.

      Most employees do not dress up. However, some will wear accessories such as cat ears, a witch’s hat fascinator, devil horns or bunny ears. Others go all out with costumes such as a cowboy, super heroes, sci fi characters, a butterfly (complete with wings), hippies, cartoon characters, etc. To date, no one has crossed the line with any inappropriate, tasteless or offensive costumes and the atmosphere is generally lighthearted and fun around the office.

      For the last two years, our departmental photographer has gone around to the different units taking pictures of those in costume/accessories and the pics are posted on the agency’s intranet site.

      I am one of the employees who goes all out with a costume and it’s gotten to the point where my colleagues have been asking me all this week if I’m wearing a costume and what will I be this year. They are expecting treats too, since I bake as a hobby and typically bring Halloween cupcakes to share.

      Today, I’m a 50’s sock hop gal complete with poodle skirt, saddle shoes, poodle socks and cat eye glasses. Instead of cupcakes, I made cake pops.

      If I get called into a meeting last minute, I have a regular dress and shoes to change into though. Lol

        1. Iconic Bloomingdale*

          Ugh I replied to myself instead of to a fellow commenter.

          At any rate, today we had a smattering of employees in costumes and/or accessories- Star Trek, Jungle cat, Cat in a Hat, an anime character, the usual devil horns, top hat/steampunk fascinators and those in cloaks and capes. Fun, lighthearted, no one was inappropriate.

          This year the official photographer sent out a company wide email that anyone in costume who wanted their pic taken could do so between certain hours in the photography area.

          One of our senior managers walked around and she loved my costume. I offered treats to anyone who stopped by office. It was all in good fun.

    87. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

      When we moved to the US eons ago, our first week there we had to visit the department of motor vehicles and it was Halloween. Dour-faced state employees were all dressed up for Halloween. We were served by “Betty Boop,” who looked so grumpy.

      Current company does dress up too.

    88. Hello*

      I work in tech managing policies and standards for a large org and we dress up. The Infosec folks do as well. Actually the whole tech building does

    89. Hush42*

      I work in an Office in the Admin department. 5 years ago my company started having a costume contest every year on Halloween. For the first few years they have out one prize, of $100, to the best costume as voted on by the employees. Starting last year they add multiple groups and prizes such as spookiest costume, best group costume etc. All with prizes of $100.
      There’s no pressure to dress up or participate but we usually get a good amount of entries.

      My team is lucky enough to have an incredibly creative person on our team who loves to make stuff. She makes the costumes and we pay her back for the supplies. So, since we became a team 2 years ago, my whole team does a group costume together. This year she made us all McCormick Spice costumes and we’re going as the Spice Girls. Last year we went as Beanie Babies, and the year before we went as a Glory of Unicorns.

      1. Hush42*

        Forgot to mention- its definitely a place where most people consider it a Career and we’re in Central NY.

      2. Jaid*

        I’ve seen a picture on Facebook with similar “Spice Girls”, wearing black leggings and red and white socks. :-)

    90. First Time Commentor*

      I live in the mid-Atlantic, and my past job was at a bank in a branch. Years ago, I’m told people working in the branches were allowed to dress up for Halloween, but as they started to have issues with employees wearing inappropriate costumes, that policy was ended and nobody is allowed to dress up anymore.
      I now work in a small satellite office (less than 50 people) and since we don’t have any face-to-face interaction with customers our everyday dress code is a little more relaxed (we can wear jeans). We’re having a pot luck today and everyone is encouraged to dress up. Not everyone does, but a good number of us do, and it’s pretty fun!

    91. Random commenter*

      I’ve worked at a couple of software companies in Ontario, Canada, and some people dress up. There have been costume competitions.
      I’ve also worked in the office at manufacturing facilities and the only people who dressed up seemed to be in sales.

    92. Jamie*

      Software company in a mid-Atlantic capital city and we do a Halloween costume contest as well ad a potluck. Dressing up is optional but lots of people in all departments do it.

    93. NEWBIEMD19*

      Surgical resident here. As I write this, I am wearing blue scrubs, black Dansko clogs, a lab coat….and a unicorn horn.

    94. Liz*

      I work for the U.S. House of Representatives. Not sure what people would do if it was a day with votes, but last year I saw full-out costumes as well as small accessories. (We have voting today; I will be dressing business-formal in all black, plus a set of cat ears once votes are over.)

    95. OhGee*

      I work in the fundraising department of an Ivy League university in the northeast. We go WILD for Halloween. Cubicles/ offices are decorated (including some senior staff), there’s a costume contest, teams of people pull together group costumes, and colleagues with small children are invited to bring them in for trick or treating in the afternoon. Many people here see this work as their career, and we’re normally a relatively formal, very hard-working place. Halloween is fun. I feel sorry for OP if they think costumes are only for children or retail jobs. It’s one of many creative costuned traditions in human history and it lightens the mood at work and reminds us we’re all people. (And people who don’t care for Halloween aren’t forced to participate.)

      1. Lily Rowan*

        If we’re not actually coworkers (our big day was yesterday), our offices are remarkably similar!

    96. Oryx*

      I work in communications for a large well-known reading app. Our CEO loooooooves Halloween and every year we have a huge party in the afternoon. There’s costume contests and raffles and pumpkin carving. I’d say at least half the staff dresses up, including executives

    97. JulieD*

      Regarding OP#4 (Halloween costumes at work): I work for a large pharma company in their corporate headquarters, and our VP’s organization has an actual Halloween costume contest with multiple awards (and the people who win get points they can exchange for gift cards, etc.). Those who sit in my area routinely dress up in group costumes that are quite intricate and handmade. I’m not into dressing in costume so I don’t participate, but a lot of people do. The last company I worked for before this job was a large CRO, and they also had a costume contest. So it does happen, even with big companies! Some departments participate and some don’t, but the people who are into it are really into it.

    98. Falling Diphthong*

      Spouse works in R&D, east coast. They are dressing up, due to a person who loves Hallowe’en spearheading that this year.

    99. Maddy*

      I work at an environmental consulting company. So scientists. We are having Halloween treats and costume contest. Definitely a career based company. Located in Canada.

    100. Sally*

      I work in pharma/biotech, and at my last (global, very large) company, there wasn’t a whole lot of costume wearing. But now I’m at a much smaller, newer company that has weekly happy hours and other social events, and people definitely dress up – in a moderate way – during the workday. But at our after hours Halloween party and costume contest yesterday, it was a different story! People go all out, and it was a lot of fun. This is my preference because it isn’t too distracting when you’re trying to work, but people still get to dress up and have fun. I think you get a lot of questions about this because adults like dressing up and wearing costumes! – not all adults, of course, but a lot of the people I encounter in the New England area.

    101. Lady Blerd*

      We are allowed to dress up but it’s part of our annual charity fundraiser and isn’t mandatory. I dressed up last year, am not this year as I didn’t think about it ahead of time.

    102. Somewhere in the midwest*

      I used to work in the corporate office of a road construction company, where they not only dressed up, they held a party and costume contest. Sometimes, departments would coordinate their costumes around a theme. One of my former colleagues is my best friend and she now works for a different (smaller) company. I don’t think they go all out, but she just posted a photo on Facebook and she’s in costume today. Now, where I work now (university library), I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone in costume. I don’t get out of the building often enough to see what’s going on elsewhere on campus, though.

    103. Art3mis*

      I work for a Health Insurance carrier in the claims department and we’re able to dress up. Most don’t, but I do because I love Halloween. Most other companies I’ve worked at didn’t allow it though and I’ve mostly worked in Insurance or Group Benefits.

    104. Katefish*

      I’ve worn costumes at retail jobs, but I’m currently a New York attorney about to unpack my shark costume and wear it today-my managing attorney loves Halloween. I don’t dress up if I have court on Halloween, however.

    105. Chrysanthemum's The Word*

      I work in Massachusetts in a health center – about 75% of our employees dress up and we have a HUGE decorating contest that is very competitive. Our patients like it, especially the kids, most of our employees enjoy it. It’s completely voluntary but I think what is kept it growing year after year is the enthusiasm is contagious and planning themes and decorating can be a bonding/fun experience for our employees that helps distract from the work in a positive way.

    106. Software Developer*

      I work for a huge tech company in their Boston location and Halloween is huge at my site. There’s contests for best costume, best decorated pod, best baked goods, and most people seem to dress up. I think it has a lot to do though with the dress code already being casual and the fact that the workers at my location skew pretty young so most people are pretty enthusiastic about it.

    107. Josh Lyman*

      I work at a graduate school at a large university. And everyone who is student-facing dresses up! The average age of our students is 27 and nearly all of them are working professionals, but it’s like our staff is blinded: students! Dressing up! Yes! We must! To be fair, most (MOST- some people go all out) of the costumes are just like cat ears. But still. Still.

    108. Bagpuss*

      I’m a lawyer in the UK, and none of the places I have worked have involved peopel dressing up.

      For our business, I would see it as inappropriate for any staff-members who interact with clients, as it would strike the worng note when someone is coming in about their divorce, or to deal with the estate of a loved one. (and as a high-street practice, people often just call in, so even if you don’t have any appointments booked, you may well still end up speaking to clients)

      I would have no problem if a member of staff were to show up in halloween colurs or with discreet things such as bat / cobweb ear-rings or a brooch, although I can’t think of anyone who ever has.

      I have seen staff in local shops dress up but haven’t seen it in an office, but of course I don’t visit many non-law offices!

    109. Name escapes me..*

      Work in a very busy govt office where we serve the public directly and we always dress up as a team with a theme.. a lot of fun goes into the planning though that mostly takes place during lunch hours.

      We also decorate the heck out of our offices for whatever season we happen to be in the midst of at the time and if it’s a season where there is candy involved (christmas stockings, halloween bags, easter baskets) we all have one on our desk for others to fill.

    110. Emily B.*

      Today is my first Halloween at my new job. It’s both a very career and very fast-paced environment–I work on a very specialized kind of emergency response, and many of the people I work with have multiple degrees and decades of experience in the field. Not everyone dresses up, but some do, and interestingly, it seems to be the people with the most demanding jobs who are most likely to dress up. I imagine that this is part of a work hard/play hard response to the demands of the job.

    111. sheworkshardforthemoney*

      I work with international students who are here attending university. Most of them have never experienced a North American Halloween and are very excited about dressing up. I’ve been asked for ideas for costume ideas all week, my advice was nothing openly sexy or super gory. We’re having a themed dinner, Gruesome Goulash, kitty litter cake, pumpkin carving and treat bags etc. It’s been a fun week watching them get involved with it.

    112. PolarVortex*

      Tech company here.

      Not only does my office encourage dressing up, but it has costume contests. With serious prizes. Full teams dress up to attempt to win it.

      We also have employees bring their kids in to “trick or treat” at employees desks. C-levels have candy in their offices, my VP has a decorated door and a giant bowl of candy.

      I freely admit I lean in hard, I bring in halloween treats and candy and pencils/stickers for the kids who have allergies. It’s a fun break in what is our company’s run of 3 hellish, busy, chaotic months.

      And I dress up.

      Sincerely,
      Jayne from Firefly

    113. What's with Today, today?*

      I have two, one is not PC.

      In the early 2000s, we had a part-time employee that worked nights, he was rarely around the bosses. He had long, long hair and a very long beard, like mid-chest. He went to help video the local Halloween festival for us, and the BIG BOSS was there for some reason, I don’t remember why. Anyway, the guy went dressed as Osama Bin Laden with a fake bomb strapped around his neck. Our boss, who admittedly is laid back, literally just chuckled. The funniest (worst, maybe) part is that our boss has trouble with names anyway, so he called him Osama forever after.

      Same Halloween festival – our sales lady that coordinates and sells the remote at the festival dresses up every year – full out, expensive, elaborate costumes. This year she was a midevil times woman and easliy spent several hundred. That was Tuesday, I’m sure today will be good.

    114. JT*

      I don’t usually dress up for Halloween. But I work at a very large corporation where staff In my office is mainly engineers, mappers, and scientists. It’s very high paced, we take our careers seriously, and we have a lot of government contracts. It’s very normal for our office to have costume contests. Some people go all out, some do something basic, and a lot don’t participate – but we all enjoy it!

    115. writerboy*

      I work for the Government of Canada and have done so since 1997. In general, it’s an industry where people take their work and their oath of office very seriously. That said, what happens on Halloween varies from workplace to workplace. At my last position, the entire directorate had a friendly competition among branches and people went all out, but we still did our work just like any other day. This competition was instigated by two particular executives, both of them much beloved, highly competent and well-respected. I have also worked in shops where people “sort of’ dress up (like wearing a witch hat or something), and also in environments where it doesn’t happen at all. That’s what I have right now, although the social committee did plan an after-work outing to a haunted farm this week.

      1. StudentPilot*

        Another Canadian federal public servant here, I’ve worked in a variety of departments and have seen the same range. The commute every Halloween is always a mishmash of full on costumes, halloween touches and regular attire.

      2. Pommette!*

        I don’t work in the civil service, but grew up in Ottawa, so most of my family and many of my friends do. Growing up, my parents’ departments always held awesome halloween open houses for employees’ kids. Their work was intense and demanding, with lots of overtime, so Halloween was treated like an opportunity to let family (or pets!) into a space where you spent so much time. I have some fond memories of it!

        Likewise for my friends who work there now. They are in fast-passed “career” roles that often require prolonged and specific training and long hours… but many dress up, and they take their costumes seriously. There’s variability between departments, for sure, but some go *all* in, with elaborate costumes, team costumes, competitions, food, and games. It sounds as if the directors are often the most dressed up.

    116. Xarcady*

      Education-adjacent form with 400 employees regularly has a contest for best-decorated department. Departments go all out with themes, decorations, and costumes. Not every department participates, but most do. So at least during the judging phase on Halloween, quite a few people are running around in costume.

    117. SpookySzn*

      My current employer (healthcare consulting firm) is VERY into Halloween. Leadership is really big on avoiding burnout, so they use stuff like Halloween as a way to do fun things in the office. Many people dress up to varying degrees and there’s office trick or treating, as well as an office party and a happy hour.

    118. Ivy Gator*

      I work in health policy at a research center in the northeast. We work in a highly political, fast-paced environment but Halloween is our chosen holiday for some reason. People go all out, the conference room is converted into a haunted house, and we have a potluck. It’s gotten so out of hand that an email went out reminding people that participation is optional. Multiple directors (PhD, MD-level staff) have come in elaborate outfits including face paint. That said, we don’t book any video conference calls and those who are likely to interact with people outside the organization on this day do show restraint.

    119. Kitty Cathleen*

      I work in insurance, at a company of about 250 people. The vast majority don’t dress up in costumes, but lots of people do seasonal accessories: a jack-o-lantern scarf, fun earrings, maybe even a cat-ear headband. One woman wears a costume every single day in October, but if you didn’t know that, you might not recognize it as such. For example, yesterday she was Daria: orange blouse, green skirt, black blazer and boots. Entirely office-appropriate, but still a costume. She was Gaston earlier this month: brown pants, black belt, red blouse, yellow scarf. She’s been Charlie Brown, Yoko Ono, a piece of nigiri, and tons of other things. People from other departments regularly swing by to see what she’s wearing and if they can figure out what the costume is! It’s definitely a little unconventional for our office, but she’s been here 12 years and only started doing this after 9. She’s well known for producing high-quality work. Being a known quantity can really make a difference in situations like this.

    120. Quinalla*

      A lot of our staff is non-client facing, so as part of the culture/events team, we have a Halloween costume contest (very laid back) and this year we had a dress up thing every week. If you have client meetings, it is stated that you would NOT be dressed up for those. I’m not a full costume person myself, but I did wear a hat for hat day and I’m wearing a knit knight’s hat today in honor of Halloween. Also, I work in a regional office, so we participate differently since the dynamic is different here and no one did any dress up except hat day and probably tomorrow when we can wear company t-shirts. Everyone participates in summer short fridays here though and yes we can wear jeans everyday except when meeting clients.

      And our work is honestly pretty busy this time of year, but we try to keep the culture of the office fun and also laid back so if people are really into certain things, they can have a blast, but if not then they aren’t pressured to participate. It works pretty well and we keep an eye out for when we need to adjust and often have generational misunderstanding when a lot of our younger staff wants to do something and older staff just doesn’t get it. The wearing jeans everyday took WAY more effort than it should of because of a few staff at the top not getting it (they still don’t, but are ok with it as long as people aren’t meeting clients).

      1. Jaid*

        Annnd I just remembered that I have the knit Viking hat/yarn beard attachment. That’s ok, My fuzzy clip in cat ears with sequins are fine.

        *still a little sad* ;-)

    121. Syfygeek*

      I have worked at places where departments competed against each other for best costume (by the way, Men in Black is super easy and not really noticeable until everyone is together and puts on the shades) and places where no one dressed up.

      My current job doesn’t dress up, but I’m wearing a nice black sweater, pearls, and slacks and have a plastic cup of cereal on my desk with a plastic knife through it. I’m a “cereal killer”, you know they always look so normal….

      It’s a know your audience, know your workplace thing.

    122. Sick of Workplace Bullshit*

      I know mine isn’t a typical office, but I teach in a private English-as-a-second-language school in Toronto. We love Halloween here! We have pumpkin carving and a costume contest for the students, and a good number of the staff and teachers dress up. It’s not mandatory, and there’s no pressure to participate. It’s fun for the students (young adults, for the most part) and they get to learn the culture around Halloween as well.

    123. Pretzelgirl*

      Right now I work for a place with a religious affiliation. So there isn’t much but some candy left out. Sometimes someone brings donuts in.

      I have worked 2 places where Halloween was a big deal. Costume contests, cube decorating contests, parties, potlucks etc. Honestly they were very fun and everyone always had a good time. Voluntary, but a lot of people participated. There were def places where people had more of a career. One was a tech company, with lots of RD, product development and sales. People took their jobs very seriously.

    124. Lyudie*

      I’ve worked in tech companies for 20+ years and it’s mostly been some people but not everyone dressing up. Some people will wear a Halloween-themed t-shirt or something (I forgot to dig out my ghost earrings, darn it). My current company (medical software) used to do a costume contest but I guess as we’ve gotten many more people in the office (and no longer have the whole building to ourselves) that’s been dropped. I saw an Amy Winehouse here (shortly after she died) and I thought that was a bit much, but most of the costumes were fun…a bunch of ladies dressed as chickens one year, with rubber gloves on their feet, for example.

      I used to work with a lovely woman at IBM who did amazing costumes…one year she was a tavern wench (she said she had a lot of odd looks in meetings with developers that day) and a full nun habit (complete with ruler).

    125. Nuva Ring*

      My partner is an Ob-gyn, and they all do Halloween costumes, usually coordinating, and usually involving puns related to their careers. This goes double for the Halloween night shift.

    126. No costume today*

      Every non-profit I’ve worked for the US has had a lot of costumed staff for Halloween, though c-suite less often than the rest of us. (If there is a costume contest, c suite wears no costumes at all.) Nothing gory or scary allowed. And we were always encouraged to leave on time to go play, rather than our usual longer hours.
      Retail jobs have always had staff dress up. On more than one occasion I tried to help a customer who turned out to be a costumed colleague!

    127. AD Collins*

      Not my own office, but several years ago I had a medical appointment on Halloween and all the nurses were dressed as nurses used to in dresses, white stockings, and their nurses caps. It was a flashback for someone my age.

    128. dedicated1776*

      This is my first year at a home health agency. It’s 8:33 and I’ve already seen five people (out of about 50 at this location) in costume. So yeah it’s a thing. lol I also worked at a cigar company that had a big costume contest. We had about 150 employees and usually about 20 people would compete, plus there were always a few others dressed up who didn’t enter.

    129. Short Time Lurker Komo*

      I work at a financial software place and my specific branch is in Texas. My company is employee oriented in a good way. Today, we have a costume contest and pumpkin decorating contest that are both opt in and both reward cash prizes funded by the company (75/50/25 for the costume contest 1st/2nd/3rd). Maybe 20 or so people will dress up and be in the costume contest and 10 or so in the pumpkin (with overlap). The pumpkins are blind votes – as in the pumpkins will be numbered so it’s not immediately known who made what to help avoid making it a pure popularity contest. The costumes will have pictures taken and then a ballot sent out with the pictures connected, and people vote on their favorite costumes (or coworkers). Both voting processes are opt in as well – no one is monitoring who is doing what. Participation is also opt in. I am dressing up, but I’m not gonna do the contest.

      We are encouraged to bring snack food and wear something ‘Halloween-y’ even if we’re not in costume – which is even as vague as ‘Halloween colors’. Specific friends may tease friends if someone doesn’t participate, but its definitely no pressure at the company level.

      The snack food will be breakfast and lunch for most people because we love to feed each other. There is no tracking who brought food and no limiting the amount of times you can go get food, no shenanigans like that.

      We’re busy, and not everyone can make time to do things, and that’s alright! But the option is there!

    130. LimeRoos*

      Jumping on the bandwagon of responses, I’m currently sitting at my desk wearing a flying squirrel onesie. Greater Minneapolis area, non-profit healthcare/insurance, ex-job 1 we dressed up, ex-job 2 we couldn’t wear costumes (but festive jewelry and stuff was fine), current job we can dress up and there’s 10 spots for trick or treating & a costume contest. I’m super stoked, and the first line of the company wide e-mail was that it’s totally optional which I thought was nice. And it is truly optional, so far it seems like only 1/3 to 1/4 of our department dressed up, but I’m sure once it’s past 8am it’ll be a bit more, but not over half.

    131. Sara without an H*

      I work in higher education. Some people dress up, some don’t. My personal favorite was a senior colleague who wore his academic gown (he had a Ph.D.) with a jester’s cap and bells.

    132. Bank*

      I work for a -gasp- bank — in the Marketing department in the Midwest and we definitely go all out for Halloween. Our CMO is SUPER into it, and we have a party that takes up half the day. She goes all out — like theater level costumes. We perform skits and have group costumes.

      We also send in our pet costumes and they get posted on the intranet. I think other departments do dress up too, but I don’t think customer facing people (bankers, teller, etc) can dress up, but I may be wrong on that.

      1. Save your forks*

        I work at a Bank too and we are all about Halloween. Company-wide costume contest plus local office costume contest (team costumes are a big thing), tons of decorations, a party with parade and people’s kids come in to trick or treat. It is a lot of fun and you might get slightly chided if you don’t wear a costume (like yours truly) but it’s definitely not mandatory. The front-level customer-facing people, like you said, don’t dress up, and neither do most people with client meetings – but I have seen it happen!

    133. header*

      we have a dept-decorating contest every year, that is accompanied by a costume contest. last year, we broke this across two days, with one day for individual costumes and one day for department thematic costumes. this year, we slimmed it down to just a contest between departments. over the years, we’ve had an entire department do a KISS/rock and roll HOF theme with a fog machine, we had a dept do a huge, stunning GOT theme, and another do a freakshow theme complete with “lion” (chihuahua with a mane). costumes range from a simple tshirt to something you’d see at a comicon with various prosthetics and accessories. this is the first place i have worked that has done something so orchestrated company-wide. for what it’s worth, we’re about 45 min south of Boston, MA, and we definitely skew more “professional career” than “job.”

      other companies i worked at (mostly in RI) just had handfuls of employees in costume if they felt like it.

    134. The Ginger Ginger*

      Creative agency here. This is my first Halloween at this company, but apparently everybody GOES IN. Costume contest, dog costume contest (dog friendly office), and a 2hr company party starting at 3. We already had a conference room decoration contest and a pumpkin carving contest during work hours in the lead up to today. Also, we are not slow paced in the least. Top to bottom of the ladder, Halloween is a big deal here. My last job did costumes too. I won the contest one year with cat makeup a la Broadway cats. I didn’t have time or bandwidth to pull a costume together this year, and I’m pretty disappointed.

    135. cmdrspacebabe*

      I’ve worked for multiple Canadian federal government departments and while costumes are never mandatory and there’s no pressure to participate, there’s usually at least a potluck and some kind of low-key costume contest. At least a few people who go all-out; costumes are typically worn all day. I myself am dressed as a galaxy today via a space-patterned dress and starry leggings.

    136. Halloween Fun*

      I have worked in a variety of fields – agriculture, manufacturing, transportation and logistics, hospital owned fitness facility – and every single place have had people dress up. I am an accountant and sitting next to a bumble bee, a ray of sunshine, Wednesday Addams, and the Mad Hatter. I am wearing pumpkin bell earrings that will likely get thrown across the room within the hour. Some places were more “witches hat and headband” style but my current workplace, which is the HQ for my large national company, goes full tilt. One of our departments is currently dressed up as hunters and prey (rural area with lots of hunting for meat and animal control). Hunters are wearing camo and orange vests so no weapons or anything – one even brought in a stuffed hound dog.

    137. Minocho*

      I had a former job in a company that serviced small aircraft in Houston. The corporate office had an interdepartment contest, where each department turned their work area into a funhouse/haunted house, and C-suite people would come through and judge.

      I was in IT, and we opted to go all out with a Matrix theme. We played the soundtrack, dressed like Agents, colored a guy’s vitamin pills with blue and red markers, replaced all the screen savers with the green vertical characters dropping theme, brought in a fog machine, painted black butcher paper (like teachers use as backing for their display boards?) with green colored black light luminescent painted green characters and brought in black lights.

      Everyone loved our area – except the C-suite judges. Only one of them even knew what the Matrix was. we didn’t get any prize.

      But we felt strongly that we won a moral victory.

    138. Theme Park Technical Writer*

      I work in a theme park in Florida. Front of house roles aren’t allowed to dress up because they already technically have costumes, but back of house roles can. It’s probably 40% of people dressing up here.

      I transferred from another theme park where we went all-out on team costumes, and when I came to this one and asked if costumes were okay, my boss looked a little nervous but said yes (I went as a cat that year to be safe). It’s been 4 years now and we now do full team costumes as well; that same boss is currently at his desk as Fred Flintstone.

      1. Lyudie*

        As a former technical writer, I am wildly jealous of your job right now lol. I thought writing about server racks was fun haha.

    139. AliceBD*

      I’m fairly indifferent to Halloween (not opposed to it at all, and would love to hand out candy if any kids ever came to my door, but I’m fine with not being invited to parties and having to come up with a costume) but people at lots of my jobs have dressed up. I’m in marketing and the place where the most people dressed up was when I was working in the craft industry — lots of creative people in marketing, web design, product development, graphic design, etc. We never saw clients so there was no issue with that. That was also a workplace where people frequently sewed and embroidered their own clothes, wore shawls they knit, etc. so (always homemade) costumes were a natural fit.

      I’m working for a big medical practice now and among the admin team accounting all coordinated and are characters from The Wizard of Oz. Otherwise I think it is just the call center (definitely more job than career) and maybe some of the clinical and front desk staff — I think I saw a physical therapist dressed as a super hero on my way in.

    140. A Teacher*

      High school teacher. We were told we were expected to dress up to help promote school harmony–about 2/3 of the staff did dress up. We had an emergency staff meeting first thing this morning with lots of costumed people.

      I think the oddest thing so far has been the sophomore dressed as a furry, complete with a leash and a girlfriend that was petting him… you just can’t unsee some things.

    141. Anon for this, colleagues read here*

      People in my line of work mostly feel their job is a career or even a mission.
      We are always busy and right now ridiculously busy.
      And yet we have decorated our doors and some of us have costumes. I wear a costume every year . It’s the same costume

      (I’m kinda feeling dissed about the “job” and “slow paced” comments — like, really Alison? only slackers dress up?)

      1. also anon rn*

        I’m with you – I read that and immediately bristled. At my job we’re crazy busy too and the work is very fast paced, almost everyone dresses up and we all still manage to get our work done and stay career-focused…

        1. Amesip*

          I agree. I mean, I’m sitting here in my office in a costume that my Director ‘strongly encouraged’ me (and everyone else) to wear for a department-wide group costume. Frankly, I dress up more now that I’m out of retail! I usually love your advice, Allison. Today though…I’m a little offended by the judgement…

        2. a heather*

          Me too! Since I graduated college, my “jobs” have always been “career” and not just “job”. I feel like that was a bit of a dig at places with a culture that encourages fun interactions.

        3. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I clearly called it wrong and the comments here are setting me straight! My apologies.

          I’ll remove that from the post. (But in the interest of accountability, for people who didn’t see it, here’s what I wrote originally: “My hunch is that you might see it more in workplaces where people feel like their work is more “job” and less “career” and/or where the work is fairly slow-paced (and so there’s more time for diversions like dressing up), but that’s just a guess and I could be completely off-base.”)

          1. SWA*

            I’m late to this but yeah that’s incorrect. If Southwest’s Gary Kelly and other C Suite members can dress up, and any of the employees, I think it’s not about it being a just “job” or slow paced.

      2. Pommette!*

        Yes, that comment rubbed me the wrong way.
        The way the comment was phrased sort of implies an equation between fast-paced and career vs between slow-paced and job, which doesn’t really stand (there are lots of fast passed, exhausting, entry-level and non-specialized out there!)… And the idea that dressing up is something that only, well, slackers would do is… not accurate or helpful.

      3. Shan*

        Yeah, that bit rubbed me the wrong way. Amazingly, I am able to be extremely busy at work in my chosen career AND throw on a witch hat.

    142. marxamod*

      I work at a software company – we used to have company-wide costume contests (each team would vote, then a single person from each team would go to the company-wide vote) but they stopped a few years ago because it took up too much time. I’d say ~20% of people dress up these days but it’s mostly those fleece onsies?

      That said, a clown just walked past me complete with giant red nose.

    143. Jean*

      We have about half and half in my office (wearing costumes vs not wearing them). I’m not wearing a full costume but I am wearing a couple of fun accessories. We have a really friendly, collaborative culture here so it’s not that big a deal. I can see how a more formal workplace would frown on dressing up.

    144. Scarlet*

      Ok OP #4. I was born & raised in MA – I have always worked at places where you can wear costumes to work. Western MA & Boston. I have also lived in AZ and CO – costumes at work.

      I’m sorry your “legal and policy-oriented workplaces” don’t let you dress up, but for what it’s worth, every place I’ve worked at is in Finance, and they allow it.

      PS I’m a dinosaur today

    145. BankNerd*

      I work in the IT division for a large bank. We have a Fall Festival on the last Friday before Halloween. Employees dress up, some even do group costumes, and there is a staff costume contest with prizes for individual and group costumes. Then in the afternoon, immediate family members come in and kids go trick-or-treating around the cubicles. One of the information security teams always does a group costume and then decorates their entire cube aisle with the same theme. Last year they did The Wizard of Oz, and their aisle was the Emerald City complete with Yellow Brick Road. This year they were The Avengers, and decorated their aisle like a city at night (black paper on the walls with multi-colored sticky notes for windows, and each person’s cube decorated to fit their individual character. They are the definition of going all out…. LOL.

      Also, the staff in the bank branches (tellers and bankers) do dress up on the actual day of Halloween, and give out candy to their customers.

    146. stitchinthyme*

      Out of all my post-college companies, only two of them have done anything for Halloween — both basically dotcoms. They had costume contests, but the participation rate in both was pretty low. I dressed up once or twice at those places, but I felt kind of weird and awkward sitting at my desk in a costume, so I gave that up pretty quickly. My husband’s current company also does a costume contest, but he says participation also tends to be pretty low there.

    147. RobotWithHumanHair*

      I work as a warehouse manager and walked in with a Deadpool mask on, just to amuse a couple coworkers. Didn’t wear it for that long though because my vision is rather hilariously impaired with it on.

    148. LessNosy*

      I think dressing up in costumes comes down to company culture. Our culture is pretty relaxed (as long as you do your work, it’s okay to have some fun too). My company is BIG on Halloween. Our home office hosts a costume contest every year. We are in building products manufacturing. Everyone in the home office is busy and has a lot of work, and most areas are understaffed, so it’s a fun way to just blow off some steam. Our warehouse staff across the country does this too (as long as the costumes don’t interfere with warehouse-type duties).

    149. CoffeeNut*

      I work in local government and we have an optional dress up policy. We are public facing, so there are restrictions and a point made of costumes being appropriate. Today, what I have seen so far, we have a scarecrow, cowboy, broken doll, and an IT person dressed as a 404 error. Not everyone dresses up. Management is only authorized to dress up subject to any meetings scheduled for today.

    150. Archaeopteryx*

      I work in a large healthcare provider, and Halloween is pretty much the biggest company-wide event of the year. Departments go all out with a different theme for each medical specialty, and it’s a contest with prizes best decorations, best individual costume, and best department costume. I don’t know if other medical offices would be as elaborate, as it’s kind of a company-culture thing, but it’s pretty fun. (Though in my three years there I’ve seen two departments go off the rails with too bloody/death-themed decor – pretty tame by Halloween standards but wildly inappropriate for, say, Oncology! Usually it’s more tame stuff like Minions, Candyland, Disney Villains, etc.)

    151. Fela*

      I’ve spent my career thus far in non-profits based in Kentucky and Indiana and have worked on the national, state, and local level. I consider myself a youth worker, though I don’t work directly with kiddos. In all of my jobs (five positions in three organizations), people have dressed up. It’s usually something simple, like a t-shirt tuxedo, a sparkly skirt/witch hat, etc. But one of my current colleagues loves to go all out (we’re the administrative office of a domestic violence services agency). I’m in meetings this morning, so I’m not dressed up yet. But I will be later this afternoon–a group of colleagues and I are going as the “Spice” Girls (aprons with printed pictures of spices. I’m Paprika :) ).

    152. TNT*

      Digital marketing agency – super fast paced and definitely career-focused, but also a younger workforce that prioritizes fun when we can. We’ll all have meetings back to back today, but every person in them will be in costume probably.

    153. Karo*

      I worked at a corporate office/fulfillment center for a professional services company and, not only did most people dress up, we had prizes for best costume and a catered lunch. We were a stodgy business-casual workplace on non-Halloween days.

    154. Hermione Stranger*

      LW #4: Not so! I work at the federal government in Canada, and I’m currently happily wearing a witch hat. Our office is very professional (legal-adjacent), but lots of us are wearing “casual” costumes today — one or two accessories or a prop. A couple of us are wearing full-blown head to toe costumes, including our director. There’s a costume contest in the building, and she wants to win! I wouldn’t be dressed up if I had any outside meetings today, but since I don’t, it’s a fun little morale- and team-building event.
      One of my good friends works in a financial office, and they actually offer real prizes for winning their costume contests. I think it really depends on office culture more than what type of job it is.

    155. Going anon*

      Academic library. We’re quite career oriented here. I have never dressed up, but I have colleagues who do. No one bats an eye.

    156. Res Admin*

      Costumes have never been a thing in most of the offices I have worked in (one exception: the last year in my previous job most people dressed up, however that was also right before everyone who could get out, did).

      Having said that, as I came in this morning I saw, among others, Snow White, Fiona, Ariel, a pirate, several witches, a Minion, and someone in a blue blow up suit. The only thing I can surmise is that they must work in the pediatric hospital. Or some faculty are trying to lift the morale of students?

    157. Adjuncts Anonymous*

      Adjunct Community College instructor, SE USA, we are certainly allowed to wear costumes, although I haven’t seen anyone in costume today. I stopped wearing costumes seven years ago. RIP Papa, 10/31/12

    158. Amethystmoon*

      My workplace has a costume contest every year. I don’t participate, but many people do. Today I’m wearing a casual Halloween print top and an orange scarf with black jeans. Yep, we are casual.

    159. Wearing Many Hats*

      I work at a tech start up in MA. We have a casual dress up, like someone wears a black shirt and cat ears and one team dressed as their manager. I am dressed as Daria, but am just wearing my own clothes (I have bangs and wear glasses anyways!). It’s all very casual!

    160. GoryDetails*

      I see lots of “software development” answers already, but I’ll add mine as well. I worked in several different software companies over the years, and while there wasn’t ever a team-wide “will wear costumes” expectation, lots of us did like to dress up. My most elaborate outfit was a banshee one – long green dress, long red wig, half my face in a skull-mask and half bare (bare side towards the cubicle door, so I could turn my head and reveal the skull when anybody stopped by). My team and I enjoyed it, and none of us were in customer-facing positions or had meetings with higher-ups that day, but I admit that might have been a bit much – it was a very realistic skull-mask {wry grin}. (That team was pretty tight – we’d all go out for lunch sometimes to a local go-cart track and have mad races before heading back to the office for an afternoon of debugging.)

    161. TooTiredToThink*

      My last two jobs I’ve had people have dressed up for Halloween. In the OldJob place – the white collar office employees dressed (maybe about 10-25% participation, depending on the year) and we’d always have a picnic (more like 90% participation there). That was definitely a career place; but yeah, depending on what was going on you might see less participation each year.

      Second job is also a career place; however it is a reactionary (think IT, but not) type job; so sometimes it can be incredibly busy and sometimes …. not so busy. It depends on the department – my department usually has about 75-90% participation , but that’s because we usually have a theme and everyone participates in that theme. Other departments, I’m not sure. I know in previous years one department always had a haunted house, even.

    162. floridaalicat*

      I work at a company that is half call center/half production staff with like 10 percent of employees in tech and marketing and we have an optional costume contest going on. Employees are allowed to wear costumes as long as it won’t hurt their job duties, so plenty of people are dressed up in casual, low key outfits. :) Only a few people are going all out and they are office workers, not production side.

      Its fun, but ultimately not a requirement and no one is pressured to join in so I think its fine at some companies.

    163. Adlib*

      I work in a normally very conservative industry, but for Halloween, at every single office I’ve worked at, people dress up. (I didn’t have the energy to even stuff a costume into my bag this morning, and one of our departments had EXTRA stuff for me to wear so some areas are definitely more enthusiastic!)

    164. Roshelle*

      I work in Florida at an IT company of about 300 employees, and I would say 30% of people dress up. It could be anywhere from just an accessory like a captains hat, to elaborate zombie outfits. Our company puts on a halloween luncheon, and also does a costume contest, so I think people are more comfortable doing it. First place for the costume contest is an extra day of PTO!

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        OMG, that’s the best prize I’ve heard of so far. I would totally go all out for an extra day of vacation.

    165. a heather*

      At every company I have worked at, at least a few people dress up every year. Sometimes there are coordinated groups or contests for the best decorations (so each department would all get together and do it) and sometimes there are costume contests.

      I work in tech.

    166. Recruiter*

      I’m a recruiter, and many people in this industry seem to come from the Greek system in college (fraternities/sororities). So perhaps that’s why we dress up, have a costume contest, have a big potluck, invite everyone’s kids to work for trick or treating, and end the day early to go party…

      …all while having DOUBLE the work/productivity goals (“for fun”) :D

    167. WellRed*

      At my retail job (bookstore) a few people might dress up a bit, I’d maybe wear a t-shirt with a spiderweb. I wouldn’t be caught dead in an actual costume at a professional job that doesn’t work directly/indirectly with kids. That’s what after work and halloween parties/trick or treating are for.

    168. Seven If You Count Bad John*

      Call center here. My employer is a large company that prides itself on its company culture and engagement. Every holiday has activities around it, and the dress code (already quite permissive by my mid-90’s standards) is often relaxed for costume events such as Halloween. People do dress up and often there are team competitions. There’s generally a photo booth provided and sometimes prizes.

      I’m a big bah-humbug, so I rarely participate in the reindeer games, but it’s supposed to be a morale-booster.

    169. Dana B.S.*

      I was once actually chastised for not dressing up. I worked in a “cool” and “fun” retail store as a shipment coordinator. I arrived at work on Halloween at 6 a.m. It was a massive shipment because post-Halloween is when the big Christmas push starts. Plus, I was supposed to have a counterpart shipment coordinator to work on the other half of the store and I didn’t. And then the truck was an hour late. So I was stressed. Our district leadership team dropped in at about 9:30 to give us candy and they were all like, “You’re not dressed up!” I pretended that I just forgot because of how early I got up, but I got some seriously disappointed looks at that excuse.

      To be clear, I did dress up at that job the previous Saturday when we had our big Halloween event. I just didn’t want a costume while I was processing shipment in the backroom.

    170. Okay*

      I would say ~20% of the employees dress up for Halloween and/or decorate their cube. We have a costume contest and party, but it’s lowkey – snacks and socializing for an hour in the afternoon.

      I work in data analytics. We have a casual dress code and are usually not client-facing.

    171. trick 'r' treat*

      I work for a major corporation at the (US) corporate headquarters in the finance department. We get a lot of people dressing up, including C level executives, management, HR, etc. Lots of “career” positions. We do have rules such as no gore, nothing that covers your face, and nothing “racy”, etc. It doesn’t really take away from the work day, in my experience. It’s not like people are just sitting at their desks not working, and from what I’ve noticed there’s not more chit chat than usual (instead of talking about Game of Thrones while making coffee, they might talk about whatever they are wearing instead.) We do have a potluck, etc but again, that’s not taking significantly more time than a normal lunch break would, and we have potlucks for other occasions too.

      Oh, and Halloween is usually the busiest time period for my department, as it generally falls within month end.

    172. Bopper*

      I work in a telecom company and if our “Employee Engagement Committee” has a “let’s dress up and have a costume contest” I dressed up. If we don’t have a particular activity around it, I wear Halloween earrings or something.

    173. shergak*

      I work for the federal government and worked for multiple departments, and most people (career climbers or otherwise) dress up for Halloween. I think it also coincides with our yearly government wide charity drive, so there are multiple halloween events across offices.

    174. These Old Wings*

      I work at an advertising agency outside Philadelphia and we are having a costume contest. I’m sort of half dressed up (Halloween leggings, etc.) but as far as I remember, most of the agencies I have worked at have had at least some of the people dressing up.

    175. Lucette Kensack*

      I’m a Halloween curmudgeon (I think it’s silly that adults have co-opted a children’s holiday), but Alison’s response to the halloween question was suuuuuuper patronizing (even to me, someone who rolls her eyes at adult Halloween shenanigans).

      My office goes ALL OUT for Halloween, and it is neither “just a job” nor slow paced with nothing pressing going on. My colleagues run multi-million dollar policy research projects, manage first-in-the-nation experimental programs to support families experiencing homelessness, provide mental health services to children with severe mental illness, and facilitate leadership programs for Fortune 500 CEOs.

      I don’t care for Halloween, but I AM grateful to work somewhere that remembers that its employees are humans, and that we shouldn’t be aiming for a perfectly sterile, efficient workplace. We can do all the good work we do and enjoy ourselves with our colleagues. In fact, I would guess that we couldn’t do one without the other.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        but Alison’s response to the halloween question was suuuuuuper patronizing

        It was, but to her credit, she realized that and fixed it.

        I also 100% agree with the rest of your comment.

    176. Say It Ain't So*

      Earlier this week, we got a “friendly reminder” that we cannot dress up at work. I work in a hospital so… infection control and all that. Many of the nurses will wear Halloween themed scrubs and the kitchen/cafeteria staff also will wear Halloween shirts/accessories, as long as it won’t interfere with food preparation.

      My mom and sister both work in the magical places where one dresses up. They even have costume contests. They both work in accounting but neither one is in a client facing department.

    177. thestik*

      It can vary by offices even within a company. I work for a huge multinational healthcare company, and I know people in my office dress up. However, it’s not as consistent in other buildings (although it’s not actively discouraged). The same happens in my husband’s line of work (which is fuel logistics).

    178. Rowdy Regulator*

      I work in a State Agency in the DFW region of Texas. My Dept has a state-wide costume contest on Halloween. There are rules like it has to be work appropriate and if you have a meeting, you can’t participate, but for the most part it is just a fun addition to normal work day.

    179. Pumpkin Pie*

      I live in the midwest, and have worked at office type jobs in manufacturing and libraries. People were allowed to dress up both places. When I was a consultant in a major city though, it was a huge no no to not look professional at all times. If it does not disrupt the office, I don’t see a reason for not letting people celebrate.

    180. Twill*

      I have worked in the cubicle land of health insurance for 20 years, and every company I have worked for has had Halloween costume and cubicle decorating contests. Some places have been pretty casual about it, and others take it VERY serious ( I really pissed off some people one year because I would not come in dressed as someone from Wizard of Oz). It’s not necessarily my thing, but other people enjoy it, so that’s cool. I will dress in black (because I do every day) and I will bring in chips and dip, and rice crispy treats, but beyond that, they can have at it. I will be at my desk, listening to my audiobooks, and questioning what life decisions have lead me here….

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I find it’s huge in healthcare. Nursing homes are huge with everyone decorating and dressing up. They even parade kiddos around so residents can hand out candy. My family and friends in healthcare tend to be lowkey with it but I’ve visited enough to see it first hand that others are really all-in!

        Any reason to boost morale and bring smiles in a regularly stressful/drab environment.

        1. Jamie*

          There is a nursing home near my work where atm the outside is covered in skeletons climbing the building, hanging off the roof…it looks like it’s being invaded.

          Not scary just a bony infestation. I told two of my kids I thought it was kind of creepy and not appropriate but when they saw it they LOVED it! They thought it was the coolest thing ever and are now sad I won’t let them do it to our house.

          Guess which two kids get no vote when it’s time to find a nursing home for me?

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            I’ve never seen a facility with that crazy of outdoor decor, they usually have really limited budgets! They tend to be pretty tame on the inside as well, lots of orange pumpkins and like child-like stuff you’d see in a grade school setting. I think the scariest thing is a wicked witch that is motion censored at at nursing station.

            I find it pretty tacky to decorate with a death theme in a nursing home, yikes! They try to steer away from that obvious overtone to Halloween in my experience because duh, nursing home.

        2. Belle of the Midwest*

          I do think having kids come to nursing homes dressed up and walking around to get candy from the residents is good for both the kids and the residents.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            It absolutely is therapeutic to both the adults and kids. I really enjoyed visiting as a kid because the residents were so happy to see me and talk to me.

    181. Katie*

      There’s a few people in my office that dress up. It’s the first place I’ve worked where any attention is paid to Halloween. I’m wearing a orange sweatshirt and bat earrings today, but a few people in the office go all out. Most people don’t dress up at all. We’re a very button-up’d, career-oriented workplace, but we also serve children and families (though not directly) so we tend to accommodate and encourage a tiny bit more whimsy than the average DC nonprofit.

    182. Gaia*

      Not Current Job but Past Job was in biotech. We were a medium sized office of a large international company. Mostly career with a few job positions at our site. Over 5 Halloweens I would say about 80% of people at our site wore costumes. At the other sites in the US it was slightly less common but still over 50% and highly encouraged (although no one batted at eye at those that didn’t for whatever reason). In the UK it was pretty unheard of except by the US visitors and other international sites didn’t really do anything with the holiday.

    183. Ruth*

      Yep, I’ve got a plague doctor mask and hat going on today and a skirt with skulls. It’s a kind of hybrid so I can take it off and do my work while also maintaining a bit of Halloween spirit in my skirt. I work at an academic library, so we do have lots of students around — and/but/also I’m definitely career and I work mostly in the back. I’m tenure track, even. Our library has a strong sense of camaraderie (maybe not all together, but many pockets of camaraderie) and while most people didn’t dress up or just added a little Halloween flair, we’ve got a quite a few full on costumes!

    184. Rachel the Writer*

      I work at a media company in Pennsylvania, and we’re allowed to wear costumes on Halloween (usually there’s a party as well, and this year we had a costume contest). Most of us are editors and marketers, so we’re just sitting at our desks all day — costumes aren’t a distraction. That being said, I’d say only about half our employees dress up. But it’s still a very fun thing.

    185. HRAssist86*

      #4) I’ve been at my current HR job for seven months. It’s a small not for profit outside of Baltimore, MD with twenty employees. This is the first company I’ve worked at where we dress up for Halloween. We have yearly Halloween costume contests and the winner gets a prize. Although it isn’t mandatory the majority of our employees dressed up. We’re always getting lunch for the staff as well. Our culture is very laid back and casual as it is- jeans are allowed. So far, this morning has been full of laughs! It’s been a lot of fun dressing up.

    186. Avocado Toast*

      I work in the arts, so I’m used to seeing things that are out of the ordinary at work. I interviewed for an internship and my (soon to be) supervisor was wearing leggings with I think a blood splatter pattern on them (something like that…I don’t quite remember anymore). I registered that it was unusual but in a vague “huh, her leggings have blood on them; must be some kind of art statement” way, not in a “Whoa, what a creepy person that I don’t want to work for” way.

      Much later I realized that day was Halloween….

    187. PPP*

      I work in the midwest in a company that has has customer service, accounting and like-departments all in an office that is safety-industry related. We’re usually business casual so on halloween most everyone wears fun halloween leggings, shirts, hats, and jewelry. Some people wear more elaborate costumes and that’s totally okay and fun! We also have cupcakes!
      I’m wearing a cute little witch hat headband and a shawl over my outfit as my “costume” – I’ve gotten lots of compliments but I’m also comfortable at my desk all day.

    188. Rox*

      I used to work as a contractor at Southwest Airlines HDQ, and they REALLY do it up for holidays, Halloween included. It definitely wasn’t a slow-paced job for anyone, but the company takes steps to give people time to have fun and enjoy the festivities while getting their work done.

      Also, I’m currently working as a student assistant in the admin office of my university’s library, and there was definitely a lot of talk and planning about dressing up this month.

    189. Melissa*

      We dressed up at my first job after college (in NJ). It was at a retail manufacturing company with a connected warehouse (production and shipping) and back-office (accountant, purchasing, IT, data entry). I think it was primarily encouraged as a morale booster at very toxic company. HR encouraged us to dress up by promoting costume prizes and a parade (why). I used it as an excuse to wear a very comfortable panda onesie in lieu of business casual.

    190. Kelly Bennett*

      I work in a government office, and we do occasionally interact with the public, but mostly we’re just sitting in cubicles. I dress up every year!

    191. Evil HR Person*

      I know there are tons of replies, but get this: I used to work for an insurance company (home and property) that goes all out for Halloween. I mean: whole departments participating as one unit, costume contests, haunted corridors, the works. They are located in Florida and a couple of other states, but it’s a subsidiary of a much larger company based out of Puerto Rico. Now, the folks on the island REALLY went all out, to the point that the year I was working there, they BUILT a pirate ship at the main office. That always rubbed me the wrong way – it was my sister department that found the time to build that ship. Meanwhile, my department in the states was inundated with work. Obviously, the sister department put aside work (or didn’t have enough) because they had time to build a friggin’ pirate ship! I left a few months later. Morale was actually really low in the whole company. It just goes to show: you can have all these gimmicks, but without meaningful feedback and a deep-down good culture, you will not keep employees engaged no matter what you do. Many of my colleagues followed me out the door…

    192. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

      I’m a lawyer and currently waiting for a pre-trial conference to start. None of the lawyers are wearing costumes (though a few have fun shoes, ties, or socks), but the court clerks are dressed up.

      1. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

        Wait! One person just complimented me on my “young lawyer” costume! We’re all dressed up, as it turns out!

    193. HRAssist86*

      I’ve been at my current HR job for seven months. It’s a small not for profit outside of Baltimore, MD with twenty employees. This is the first company I’ve worked at where we dress up for Halloween. We have yearly Halloween costume contests and the winner gets a prize. Although it isn’t mandatory the majority of our employees dressed up. We’re always getting lunch for the staff as well. Our culture is very laid back and casual as it is- jeans are allowed. So far, this morning has been full of laughs! It’s been a lot of fun dressing up.

    194. AnonyNurse*

      I appreciate you and this site, but it feels incredibly condescending to read that people who dress up for Halloween at work aren’t very busy and/or have “jobs” not “careers.” There are some settings where a full costume would be unsafe, and some industries where a brightly colored tie would be considered out of line. But there are many serious, career-minded, incredibly committed and busy people wearing consumes to work today.

      In a prior role, I reviewed and summarized the death of any child in my jurisdiction. Sadly, this kept me quite busy. I presented findings to stakeholders and government leaders. I led changes to prevent child death. And on Halloween, I wore a damn costume.

    195. Mia*

      I work in marketing for a fairly large company and Halloween is huge here. We have a costume and cube decorating contest everywhere and a lot of the departments (especially the more creative ones) take it really seriously.

    196. ClumsyCharisma*

      I work in financial services in Dallas. My company goes all out including individual and group costume contest and department decorating contest with pretty decent prizes. I know some buildings go more out than others and I think some buildings have done away with the department decorating because it is end of month and it got out of hand.
      I will participate and dress up for the department decorating (there are usually scripts or roles included in the decorating) but I don’t generally just dress up on my own. Plenty of people do and it’s fine.
      Several years ago it was less common but now that we are an “employee focused company” or something like that there is more emphasis on things like going all out for Halloween.

    197. Sharkie*

      Most places I have worked have dressed up for halloween ( I am at my first job where people don’t) but they have always been low key dress ups- Someone wearing a superhero logo shirt, wearing a harry potter house hoodie, a ton of “basic witch” – Stuff like that. It is usually an excuse for a dress down day if you don’t have meetings. The most extra costume I saw was a pregnant coworker that dress up as ” mother goose” because she had wings on.

    198. Det. Charles Boyle*

      I work with a group of engineers and financial analysts and we have a group costume each year that entails just wearing a solid color top and black pants, and someone creates the add-on piece. One year we were Minions; last year we were M&Ms; this year we are Pac-men and Pac-women.

    199. MOAS*

      I’m at a tax accounting firm and we do a halloween party at work–nothing crazy, just food and drinks during work hours. costumes optional as well.

    200. Livie*

      My mom works for a contractor, the largest in the state, as a commercial division office manager and her office always dresses up for Halloween. Not everyone but most people. This year she’s dressed as a toucan. It’s hilarious

    201. Hiring Mgr*

      I’m in tech in the Boston area. I’ve been at places where dressing up is fairly common, others not. One company I worked for around 10 yrs ago used to to a big Halloween thing where everyone would dress up, kids would come etc. But the tradition stopped when a new CEO was hired who was very religious, and apparently some religions feel Halloween is encouraging satanic belief (or something like that, apologies if i’m not getting it exactly right), so he ended that.

    202. ElizabethJane*

      I work for a startup in Chicago. We do dress up but it’s more gimmicky than actual effort put into costumes. So people wear the t shirts printed to look like a costume (think the Superman/Clark Kent button down thing), or a headband with animal ears. Some people will wear one of the novelty onesies you can get at a store like Target, but that’s also super low effort.

      But we are a startup that does things to be “cool” and “trendy” so I think that’s part of it.

    203. Zanele Ngwenya*

      Sitting here in my pirate costume in my lovely serious career-track job. Later today, the building is hosting a trick-or-treat for the children of employees. Doors with balloons on them are participating, so kids will know where to knock. It’s a lovely and fun way to boost morale by being a bit whimsical for a change. There’s no pressure to participate, so just a few of us are wearing costumes while others are dressed festively.

    204. Ey-not-Cy*

      High school librarian here, we dress up on this day at school. Today I am a bookmobile. I have a cardboard box “RV” that I decorated. It’s on my counter currently, because I can’t really sit in it. Three of our female teachers are the Three Amigos, four males are the guys from the SNL movie. We have a group of Beanie baby teachers, also. It’s a competition, and we play to win, lol. As Student Council sponsor I give prizes to the kids who dress up also. It’s a fun day. My husband works for the government and would never dream of dressing up today.

    205. Classic Rando*

      I’ve never dressed up at work, in retail, food service, or office settings. Most places you could do some accessorizing for Halloween, but not a full costume. My current job is remote, but when we still had a central office no one could ever be bothered to celebrate any holiday as a company, and that was totally cool with me.

      Meanwhile, my mom is the mayor’s secretary in her small New England town and she just sent me a pic of her office where everyone is dressed up, so…

    206. Facepalm*

      I work in defense contracting in a Southern US state and there’s a guy walking around this very minute in a bear suit and another guy in a sponge bob suit. At my last contracting company (which was more formal), a guy dressed up as Hulk Hogan and a woman dressed up as some kind of animal and someone dressed up with professional-grade cosplay makeup. No one batted an eye.

    207. That Would be a Good Band Name*

      I am not sure that I’ve worked anywhere that hasn’t dressed up! I’m actually not this year, but I have in the past at this employer. I’m in the midwest. I dressed up at my minimum wage retail job and in my current accountant role. When I worked at a bank branch, I was required to as we all did a theme. All dressing up has always been company encouraged. I am not one to just show up in costume if I don’t know if anyone else is going to.

    208. halloweenlover*

      I work for a public company and we love Halloween! My office has been decorating for decades. Children and grandchildren of workers come and trick or treat so we offer a safe, fun and indoor option for kids to come to. We have decoration contests and go all out! We also do costume contests. We are definitely a career business but we have a laid back atmosphere and our particular office is not customer facing. I’d definitely say it’s our least productive work day but we still get the work done, and it’s such a fun work day.

    209. The IT Plebe*

      I work in the education tech department at a private high school. The students can come in costume for $5 (which goes toward school dances, etc.) and faculty/staff can dress up for free. Kids and adults have costume contests (separate from one another) and it’s honestly a really fun atmosphere. Plus, since we installed an electronic PA bell system last summer, we customize the bells for class changes to spooky music/sound effects.

    210. BoozyAccountant*

      I think this comes down to “tone at the top”. The owner/CEO of my mid-size employer is REALLY into dressing up, and strongly encourages everyone else to as well. We have a costume contest and a pumpkin carving contest every year. Now, we are in the booze business, so a less formal industry, but it’s quite career oriented and not that much fun around here most of the time.

    211. Catsaber*

      I dress up a little bit for Halloween. Today I am wearing a cat-ears headband and some Halloween print pants, with a normal shirt/cardigan combo and boots. Last year I wore a skull t-shirt and all black (though that’s not really unusual for me).

      I am definitely in a “career” job, and it’s quite fast-paced! I am part of the database management team at a large university, and I’ve been at this university for 10 years (3 years in my current role). However we’re a little more relaxed about dress code in general, and it’s not unusual for people to add holiday-themed touches to their outfits or cubes throughout the year. The level of dressing up varies widely across campus…some people wear full costumes, some don’t even acknowledge the holiday. And for those that do wear costumes or other items, that varies widely as well…I’ve seen tenured professors go full Halloween, but then part time help desk people wear business professional all year long. There are also several departments that will decorate their offices.

      Location: DFW, Texas
      Employer: large state university
      Job: database management team/IT

    212. call centre bee*

      Everyone was talking about low effort simple costumes for today, so I’ve thrown together a half-hearted cat costume.

      I’m the only person here who bothered, as it turns out. Just sitting in the centre in cat ears. Like a weirdo.

    213. True Story*

      Career-oriented people can dress up too!

      Currently, I work as a copywriter for a marketing agency in Memphis, TN. We have a full on costume contest and desk decorating contest most years. There’s one woman (over 70, been in the marketing business her whole career) who wears a costume every day in the week leading up to Halloween–and I’d say that at least half of my coworkers dress up in full costume on the day we celebrate.

      It might be part and parcel of working in such a creative industry, but we do a lot of event celebrating where we compete creatively, e.g., a cocktail contest where presentation, name, and description of the cocktail factor into the judging.

      FYI: All celebratory events are scheduled during work hours for a set amount of time (usually right around/after lunch if it’s a potluck and from 4pm-5pm for other events). Participation is encouraged but nobody gets dinged if it’s not their thing. Your team (think Hogwarts House) almost always has a few people who are all about the competition and they carry the rest of us who could care less.

    214. roisin54*

      I also work at a public library, and at my library only the childrens’ department employees dress up in anything beyond the usual Halloween-y accessories (i.e. cat ears headband, wacky tie, bat pin, etc…) We’re a massive organization though that also functions as a research library so we have a different culture than the average public library.

    215. SoCal Kate*

      I love wearing Halloween costumes, including to work. I always make sure they’re work appropriate. This year I’m going as a Jedi, last year I went as Hermione from Harry Potter, and previous years I’ve gone as a generic detective or pirate.

      I’m in Southern California, currently working for a very busy nonprofit. A decent number of people dress up, but of course not everyone does. I’ve previously worked for local government, and a lot of people dressed up there too. I think it’s fun because I don’t really have anywhere else to wear a costume, and I love costumes.

    216. Girl Alex PR*

      I work at a government agency in D.C. and have worked at several others in the area as well. Every one of them has had a lot of Halloween participants! Some put out candy, some dress up. My current agency does a Fall Fest with food trucks, games, costume contests and rides like a zipline and mechanical bull on Halloween. It’s a blast and one of the few days we can invite our families to our place of work, since we’re a classified facility. I love it!

    217. Gadget Hackwrench*

      My Husband dressed up as Doc Brown to Teach Physics this year! Apparently the kids are too young to know who that is though. *Sad.* I work in an office-office however so for the most part I’ve just gone with “vampire” for years now. Which is regular office clothes in black red and white, and vampire fangs which I can take out to suddenly just be me who happens to be in black red and white today. Nice Stealth-Halloween.

    218. Anonymousaurus Rex*

      At OldJob everyone was VERY into Halloween and they even had a costume contest at lunch. It was very much a career type job, in military-adjacent government contract work, but it was also a startup and most of the employees had backgrounds in either academia, art, or software development. In other words–lots of nerds, many into cosplay. I think dressing up is fun, but until this job wouldn’t ever have thought it appropriate to wear a full-on costume at work. My first year there I wore a full squirrel suit, which was the same day I did a research interview with the assistant to Donald Rumsfeld. Luckily it was a phone interview, but my colleagues were cracking up watching me ask very straight-laced academic questions while my giant tail flapped about my hooded squirrel head.

    219. Amber T*

      Not a thing for me. I work in financial services, and even though we rarely have “clients” come to our office, it’s just not a thing. You *might* see people purposely wear black/orange/purple, but that’s about it. My first year I worked here, I wore spooky cat earrings (just posts, nothing outrageous), and a worker saw them, laughed, and was like “yeah, we don’t really do that here.”

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Agreed. Even if it’s not your bag, why crap on someone else’s fun? People suck sometimes.

    220. werewolf in not-london*

      I’m a millennial and work for a smallish (150) tech company in a mid-sized east coast city in the US. We have an entire costume contest with prizes and a “parade”–it is fully optional and while only a handful join the contest, all employees are invited to see the costumed coworkers show off their work via a hallway “fashion show” walk, and then we vote on a winner (the office manager takes photos and sends them out with the survey). The prizes are pretty intense, and we have a lot of really creative people so it’s fun for those who participate.

      I’m a little torn on it–it’s a fun activity but it can be distracting (time spent getting ready in addition to doing it, also a lot of people bring their children and socialize for a bit after–normal operations kind of don’t resume until after lunch), and if something urgent comes in there aren’t as many people to address it. I usually stay at my desk for the parade but do have fun seeing what people put together throughout the day and it’s a big hit among the majority of employees, so I’m glad they have a chance to blow off some stream and have some fun at work, I just personally like keeping work and play distinct.

      1. Jen*

        Hi, I’m the Halloween OP– what great and interesting feedback! I’ve never been much of a Halloween person as an adult, but after reading all those comments, I admit to feeling slightly robbed that I haven’t worked someplace where this is A Thing! I’ve worked at two law firms, two non-profits, and two gov’t offices (one federal and one state). I currently work as a gov’t atty, and my job is such that there is pretty much zero chance I’d be called to go to court or meet with a client on short notice. I wonder what feedback I’d get if I showed up in costume next year?

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          If it’s not really A Thing at your workplace, I don’t think showing up in a full costume would be wise. However, to test the waters, maybe try wearing Halloween colors (I’m wearing a burnt orange sweater dress today with black opaque tights) and/or wearing Halloween inspired accessories like skull earrings, cobweb bracelets, etc. Your colleagues’ reactions should tell you whether or not costumes would be appreciated in the future.

    221. ThatGirl*

      I’m super late to this! But I work for a baking and decorating supply company in the Midwest and we definitely have a decent percentage of people dressed up today. We do have a costume contest, so that encourages it – I’ve seen zombie bakers, someone dressed as a cupcake, Phantom of the Opera, the Addams family, ’80s aerobic instructors, all kinds of stuff.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I also want to note that the last company I worked for – a huge office/industrial supply wholesaler – didn’t have costume contests but Halloween was still a pretty big deal most of the years I was there; people did themed cube decorations and costumes, and we would walk around the building and see what everyone had done.

    222. i_am_eating_cheetos*

      I work in publishing; when I was in New York City, very few people dressed up, but I currently work at a magazine in Connecticut, and about half the staff (40ish people) dress up. There is a costume contest at lunch hour. I wouldn’t say that we are slow-paced, just a more creative industry in a more suburban area.

    223. OneWorkingMama*

      We dress up with the expectation of “nothing bloody, nothing slutty”. We are a fast-paced place but all public-facing and our members (customers) really seem to like it. But we do silly engagement things periodically throughout the year (i.e., pajamas and hot cocoa day, team apparel days, crazy hair/hat/socks, etc.) so it’s not out of character with our culture. We’re a family-serving organization so engaging with families in goofy ways is actually appreciated. Also, costumes are expected to be not only professional, but something that can still be easily worked in–no full face masks, props that limit movement, etc. We get a lot of football jerseys, army costumes, pirates, t-shirt/cape/leggings “superheroes”, etc. People can easily choose not to participate in this or any of the days, and we also don’t really schedule meetings or interviews these days so that all levels of leadership can play along.

    224. UghNo*

      Dressed as Wednesday Addams as I type this. My work place has Halloween related “events” like pumpkin carving and costume contests. Some people (like me) decorate their cubes/desks as well. Does everyone do it? No but if you want to, you can.

      I work in an office that’s already pretty laid back (jeans are OK, tee shirts too) and I’m an Admin. Obviously if I was someone who had client meetings or something off site on a day like today, I wouldn’t be dressed up.

    225. Kiwiii*

      I’m at a pretty casual social services-related nonprofit and I’ve seen lots of ghost socks and bat earrings and superhero tee shirts, but no full costumes.

    226. No way!*

      LW4 – I used to work for an online company and we would dress up. We’re in the south and would have a competition for who would wear the best costume. Different departments might group up and go as something together as well (think like superheroes or Scooby-Doo characters). We were not customer facing so it was much easier for us, and maybe members of the company were between 22-35 I’d say.

    227. Freya*

      Both as a Fed (US) at two agencies (DC area, not an outpost) and now in the private sector (biotech) it has been the norm that it is allowed and in some encouraged by a social committee. Not everyone participates, and those that do range in participation from the basic headband with ears or at hat (wore with normal work clothing) to full on pirate outfit that looked like an extra from Pirates of the Caribbean. Some departments would do group costumes or themes.
      There are limits where the outfit needs to be work appropriate (lab you have to still be able to put a labcoat over it, wear your safety glasses, no open shoes, etc) or if you are public facing or in the office — costumes that aren’t club wear or inappropriate in context (cultural appropriation etc)

    228. Antilles*

      In my experience as an engineer, I think company culture really dictates this.
      The companies I’ve worked at that had a Halloween party in the afternoon (or nearby Friday, as applicable) would have plenty of people dress up and decorate their offices. Including my current company where I’m currently working with a Pokemon trainer, Tom Selleck, and a knight. Not everybody dresses up and that’s fine, but it’s widely accepted and people at all levels of the company will wear costumes.
      However, other companies that I’ve worked at basically treat Halloween as a regular day but just with a brief “hey, dress up if you want” email…and in those cases, most people either don’t wear costumes at all or just go very small like just a hat or a pin.

    229. YarnOwl*

      I work for an insurance broker and Halloween is a big deal in my office! We have a costume contest (with single and group categories) and they cater lunch for us and some people bring their kids in their costumes to trick or treat. Hourly folks don’t have to clock out, and it all happens during work hours.
      Halloween does fall during our busiest time of year, so I always get the vibe that the executives want to give everyone a fun day to blow off some steam and get together for something fun. They throw parties for a lot of the big holidays and it’s a lot of fun.
      And some of the most surprising people get VERY into the costumes and games! So I think that’s a fun aspect of it too, is getting to see another side of your coworkers and have fun.

    230. Woman in tech*

      My workplace is having a Halloween costume contest this year. I work for a fortune 500 company as a computer engineer.

      I’m not sure I’ll have time to participate, but it’s nice that they provide that as an option.

    231. Gazebo Slayer*

      I’ve seen people dress up for work on Halloween at a small consulting firm in Massachusetts. In fact, about half the company did!

    232. Crackles*

      We’re in banking and we encourage it with a costume contest. It’s fun for everyone, including our customers.

    233. Sindirella82*

      Accountant for a hospital in the Midwest here. I’m not “supposed” to dress up, but my boss has looked the other way every year as I usually only wear a headband of some type (unicorn, ram horns, cat ears) and sometimes employee morale can cost very little. I just love to dress up!! This year I’m a wolf and my “costume” includes furry gloves. I usually wear gloves at my desk (Reynauds) so I just replaced my every day gloves with my wolf gloves. My coworkers love it and stop back every year to see what I wear. If I have to jump in to a meeting, it’s easy to pull off my “costume” in a flash and move in to serious mode.

    234. starzzy*

      I worked as a temp in a large suburban company that worked with banks and foreclosed real estate. I would say that 50% of the workforce was temporary. They did up Halloween HUGE. There was even a filmed costume contest/parade during lunch.

      I wouldn’t say our job was slow-paced (we definitely had quotas), but wasn’t physically onerous and no one had costumes that couldn’t eventually be broken down to move around in easily.

      (I went as Rosie the Riveter. I had an old jean jumpsuit, wore a bandana, and wrote “We Can DO IT!” on my bicep. Minus the bandana, and with the sleeve rolled down, I didn’t look too different than I did normally.)

    235. TomorrowTheWorld*

      I work on the administrative side in the public sector and some agencies are fine with costumes, so long as they do not interfere with your work. Others restrict costumes to non-public facing personnel. And some forbid them altogether!

    236. Platypus Enthusiast*

      I work in an academic department, and started my job a few months ago- wasn’t sure if people dressed up or not, so I dressed up as a modified Jane from Daria (subbed in black pants instead of shorts). Nobody (so far) has gotten my costume, but I’ve gotten tons of compliments on wearing a red blazer!

    237. Peachkins*

      I’ve worked at a couple places where employees could dress up for Halloween. I live in Maryland between Baltimore and DC. The first was an animal hospital. I worked as a receptionist, but the entire staff dressed up. My current job, in a large office for a well-known insurance company, used to have a Halloween party every year complete with costume contest. The only reason it hasn’t happened the last couple years is that the bulk of our staff works from home now most of the week.

    238. Nicki Name*

      I’d say it’s definitely a white-collar thing, but beyond that, I don’t know either. Every company I’ve worked for, across a variety of industries, maybe 5-10% of people have worn costumes on Halloween, and the company has actively encouraged it with Halloween celebrations of some sort (potluck, costume contest, that part varies).

    239. juliebulie*

      Massachusetts, engineering, definitely career-oriented, and the median age is close to 40.
      Not everyone does it, and no one has to do it, but there’s a contest, and some of the costumes are fun.

    240. Drew*

      4. Every office I have ever worked in has an option to dress up for Halloween. I currently work at a corporate office for one of the big banks. Could it be a city thing? It could be that the Ask a Manager writer has only worked in offices downtown in major cities where this might not be common. I do not think its fair to say people who work in offices that dress up are not career oriented.

      1. Vemasi*

        This is similar to what I said. I think we need to take the slightly more relaxed atmosphere of smaller cities and towns into account.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I think it’s more of an office culture in the end than a “career vs job” setup. I’m always in lowkey casual AF offices, we dress up if we want…we don’t need permission even because we don’t see customers so why would it ever matter one way or another?

        I’ve never had anything other than a career track kind of position *shrug*

      3. Diahann Carroll*

        I’ve mostly only worked in downtown city offices in my career, and dressing up is a thing at a lot of companies in this area. I’ve seen people walking into work in full costumes before.

    241. StressedButOkay*

      For the Halloween costumes at work, I just came from a doctor’s appointment and the nurse taking my blood pressure was dressed up in RenFaire garb. I also saw a guy completely dressed up as Gandalf. And a hospital is very much fast paced, patient facing business! I think it depends entirely on the staff, the general atmosphere, etc., rather than the type of business, though probably some types do it less – like legal – than others.

      At my place of business, we’ve only dressed up if we’ve had a party that day we’ve thrown. If we’re not doing a Halloween party mid-day, no one dresses up outside of some ears or a hat, maybe.

    242. Em*

      I work in higher ed (I’m in college admissions). My current department loves Halloween, and many people get very dressed up. I’ve worked in other departments on the same campus, and have friends in many other departments. Campus-wide, it’s hit-and-miss; some departments dress up and others don’t.

    243. Mitzi*

      I work at a non-profit foundation and we dress up every year. Not everyone does, but we have a lunch that the organization hosts, do a cookie bake-off and have a costume contest. It’s always a fun day. Most departments also decorate.

      1. Anon for this*

        Oh dang, on my list favorite Halloween events at places I have worked, I totally forgot to mention that there was usually a treat contest where you got prizes for design creativity, taste, etc. Even if I wasn’t in the mood to eat any, I always loved seeing the creativity.

    244. Lee*

      My work didn’t do anything for Halloween last year, but this year they did (costume contest and all!). I work at a publishing company and we create books and magazines, so we usually have a lot to do. My job is book layout design.

      My previous job encouraged costumes as well, and I did design for shopping catalogs and such.

    245. MousePrincess*

      A very realistic Pennywise just walked into my office so…yeah…people do.
      On an unrelated note, I’m going to go cry in the bathroom.

      1. Anon for this*

        My work always picks themes so we don’t have that kind of stuff happen. This year we went with “When Microbes Strike Back!” I am airborne Rickettsia rickettsii.

        1. MousePrincess*

          That is wise. I am seriously doubting the judgement of the person who thinks a scary clown is workplace appropriate!

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            Yeah, since clown phobia is really a thing, that was not wise on your coworker’s part.

    246. Lirael*

      I’m an actuary at a life insurance company in a smaller East cost city, and we have a bunch of people dress up – all across all the departments that I interact with at least. There’s a company sponsored event the business day before Halloween (so yesterday, this year) from 3-5 where employees’ kids 12 and under are invited to trick or treat around the building their parent works in (the company doesn’t provide candy, but you’re not required to pass it out, and some rows will go in for a bag together), and there’s face painting and such in one of the building’s lobbies. People also decorate, and there was a contest this year for best decorations.

    247. SaraJean*

      I work at a university a lot like the one in the first comment (honestly – until I read that it was part of the first year curriculum this year, it could’ve been one of my colleagues) and a lot of us are wearing halloween accessories. I’ve got a mini witch hat, the woman down the hall has witch tights, and I left my tote bag in Ursula’s office – sparkly makeup and a tulle skirt over leggings does wonders. Waldo is running Learning Abroad, and there’s a cat and a t-rex in the bookstore. It’s a fun way to bring a smile to our students’ faces in the long dark hellscape that is the time between fall break and Thanksgiving.

    248. Anon for this*

      Everywhere I have worked has celebrated Halloween, unless I was working in a country that doesn’t do Halloween. I’m an epidemiologist who has worked in public, private, and non-profit sectors for companies/organizations that ranged from 60 employees to 1000+ in NM, NYC, VA, CA, and MA. Festivities ranged from a whole week to and afternoon. Some of my favorite events were people bringing their kids to trick or treat at our decorated cubes, dress and your latest outbreak/investigation (I got to be meningitis), a Toy Story theme but with haunted office equipment, one where each office decorated and dressed as data nightmares, and one where the theme was SAS getting possessed.

      None directly interact with the public and our work could be grim, so that might be why we went big on the fun? Or we are all kinda weird?

    249. Chris*

      My company is NOT a Halloween costume dress up type of place, but one of my new coworkers(who was not here last Halloween) came dressed up in full costume regalia today. As far as I can tell, out of the 400 people in building today, she is the only one.
      Awkward?

    250. Shan*

      Canadian here (Alberta, but previously BC), and I dress up. I did when I was a teacher, and I still do now that I work in Oil and Gas (so, pretty corporate). My friend works for a multinational tax and consulting firm, and she also dresses up. I wouldn’t say a huge number of people do (maybe 5%), but most of the companies I’ve worked for are supportive.

    251. Dana*

      I work for a company in Michigan and we have an annual Halloween costume. There is a costume contest for best group and individual costume. There’s actually two contests; one for the folks in my office and one for the company as a whole. In my office, we have a costume parade in the morning so that everybody in the building can see the costumes prior to voting.

      It’s also worth mentioning that some of the costumes are elaborate and, presumably, a fair amount of time goes into planning the group costumes. One year our tech support people dressed as angry birds, complete with a soundtrack and a re-enactment during the parade.

      We are definitely a busy office and we are career professionals. Think developers, software engineers, UX designers, sales people, product managers, etc. Our company culture is such that we are able to take some time to have a bit of fun.

    252. Middle School Teacher*

      We don’t dress up at my school, and our kids wear uniforms (teachers are expected to wear dress clothes everyday). Today is a non-uniform day so we can wear casual clothes that are orange or black. I’m wearing jeans with a black top :)

    253. FamousBlueRaincoat*

      I work in HR and the last two offices I worked in had a mix of people who went all out and did makeup/costumes and some people who just dressed like they always did.

      The first place I worked was the corporate headquarters of a Software as as Solution company; the place I work now is the US corporate headquarters for a medical devices company. In both cases, the C-suite folks were based in these offices, and a few of them would dress up. There were also people in IT, finance, customer support, and marketing who all dressed up. For what it’s worth, customers and corporate contacts would often be in meetings in these offices–that did not seem to impact whether people dressed up or not.

      I like that we give people the option to wear costumes at work, but it’s not a big deal if you don’t. At my current job, we send out a reminder of sort of the common sense rules of the road if you’re going to dress up and everyone seems to be respectful of it. No culturally insensitive stuff/no sexy or gory costumes/etc. It’s a nice chance to see another side of people’s personalities at work, and can be a good conversation starter with people in other departments you may not otherwise interact with.

    254. Vemasi*

      You might also take geography into account. I live in a small city, which is still the second-largest city in the state. Aside from workplaces that had required equipment dress for safety (laborer, food service), a law office, and my brother who is a recruiting rep, everywhere that everyone in my family has worked would have welcomed costumes. None have been very high-level professional, so that probably has just as much to do with it, but my impression is that life is a little more casual in smaller towns. There’s no sense that a super-important client could walk in at any second, when we are not a regional metropolitan center.

    255. rjphillip*

      I’m sitting at my desk today in the corporate office of a major insurance company dressed as the heart-eyes emoji.
      Most people don’t dress up, especially in elaborate costumes, but maybe 5 to 10% do and we’ll have a costume parade this afternoon.
      The company issues very detailed guidelines about what costumes are appropriate, so they do expect some people will want to participate.

    256. Kalalau*

      I’m at a small engineering firm in Colorado and we have a costume content and Halloween potluck lunch. Not everyone dresses up, but many do :)

    257. Amber Rose*

      I’m an angel of death today, my coworker is a pretty amazingly accurate Cersei Lannister, and our accountant is from house Griffindor. We work in a pretty fast paced career type place, although admittedly our dress code is more lax.

      My husband, on the other hand, works for provincial health care in finance, a very career oriented job, and his whole office is wearing unicorn onesies today. :D

    258. HailRobonia*

      Take a day off on halloween and tell everyone you went to work dressed as the Invisible Man or whatever.

    259. wickedtongue*

      Reporting in from an academic press in the Midwest –Halloween is our annual Chili Cook-Off, aka the best day of the year in our office. Costumes are encouraged, although I’d say only 10-20% of our office dresses up. I dress up every year, in varying levels of costume. Last year was my full Arya Stark cosplay, one year it was Death from Sandman, this year it’s Crowley from Good Omens. My boss really gets a kick out of it, and I love costumes and Halloween.

      I suspect even if I worked at a place without Halloween festivities, I’d still be in closet cosplay outfits.

    260. anon01*

      I work in a government office not open to the public. We dress in a casual professional style. Today we have a costume contest, and so far I’m the only one dressed up (maybe someone will change into costume later?). Luckily, I only dressed as Louise from Bob’s Burgers, so nothing too out there, but it’s definitely embarrassing. I definitely will never wear a Halloween costume to work again.

    261. A Poster Has No Name*

      My business unit (within a much larger company) has held a costume contest every year I’ve been here, so costumes are ok at my company/business unit. Some wear costumes, most don’t, some dress in the spirit of Halloween but not in a costume per se. I’m in a Halloween-themed tunic & socks, frex.

      One of my coworkers has pretty much retired himself in the contest because he was really good at it. Think fully transforming Optimus Prime.

      One of the fun things about us working more with remote teams as the other offices get in on the costume action, and it’s fun to see what people in offices around the world wear for costumes.

    262. AAMfan*

      I work at a nonprofit in a big East Coast city and many of my coworkers are dressing up! We have been going through organizational changes and our office management team has been planning more activities (I think to provide a morale boost).

    263. WantonSeedStitch*

      I work in the development office of a university. Usual dress is business casual (more towards “business” for front-line fundraisers, more towards “casual” for IT professionals, generally). We have a costume party at lunchtime on Halloween, and while not everyone participates, many do. Most people will change into their costume (or add costume elements) just before the party, but some will wear their costumes to work. I’ve tended to do the former. For example, last time I participated was a couple of years ago. I wore a nice retro-style yellow and black dress that I’d worn before to work, but just before the party, I added Pikachu ears and tail to complete my costume. This year I failed to plan anything, as up until yesterday, I had a meeting scheduled during the party. It’s since been canceled, but too late for me to come up with a costume.

    264. Hillia*

      I worked at a state medical school/research institution that ran a costume contest at Halloween. I also worked for an national insurance company where people dressed up; my location was not customer facing, which probably had a lot to do with it. I personally have never dressed up, but that’s just personal preference. I don’t have a problem with costumes (with the caveat that they are office appropriate and not offensive).

    265. Wells*

      I work in a staff role at a university in Canada, and yup, we dress up. I’d say about 70% of staff participate. We see everything from low key witch hats to full-body T-Rex outfits. Sometimes, different work groups get together for theme costumes (e.x. Harry Potter). Our social committee usually has a couple of games for people who are either really excited or having a slow work day, and there is chocolate. It’s not really my jam, but it’s friendly and fun.

    266. Works in IT*

      I work at a non profit, and I’m pretty sure “look, we get into the spirit of holidays that are important to the community!” is part of the whole non profit, community outreach thing that my employer does. We have Halloween costume contests (both group and individual) and any departments that interact with the public are encouraged to decorate their areas. Some departments do get semi competitive with the costume contest, because there are always people who Really Want To Win, but no one is forced to participate.

    267. Andream*

      I’ve worked at 2 call centers and we dressed up. Both even had decorating contests.for your cubical/row and costume contests.
      I’ve so worked at stores and some would dress up too. I think because the Letter writer works in a different type of office, that’s why she hasn’t seen it.

    268. Jay*

      I’m a doctor. I’ve seen coworkers dressed up in hospitals, including a 6’2″ redheaded doc dressed as Tigger. In our administrative office where no one visits except UPS and FedEx, our GM last year dressed as a dinosaur and his costume included an air pump to keep the tail and legs inflated (this one didn’t last more than an hour because he couldn’t sit down). I’m away this year. Last year I dressed as a tiger – back skirt, tiger-striped shirt and tights, pin-on tiger tail. I would not dress up if I were seeing patients, though.

    269. Anonymous Commenter #743*

      I work for a nonprofit consulting company with offices around the U.S.—roughly 75% career jobs, 25% job jobs—and lots of people at all of the offices dress up for Halloween. It’s employee-driven, so it’s a bigger deal at some offices than others. I think people have dressed up every place I’ve ever worked, and I’ve worked in a variety of industries.

    270. AEliza*

      I work at a non-profit geared toward girls and leadership growth (the vast majority of staff is women) and we do an all out Halloween party with prizes and group costumes. Our party was yesterday and today we’re all wearing individual costumes. It’s actually really fun!

    271. Kelly AF*

      I work for a regional bank in PA (in marketing, at the corporate headquarters) and not only is everyone on my floor in costumes today, but we paraded down the hall! (I’m wearing black pants and a black shirt, with Pac Man dots and ghosts on it – a marketing group costume.) It’s generally a pretty conservative culture, but we do go all out for Halloween for some reason.

      I saw a member of senior leadership (who has 1000+ people below him in the org chart) wearing a pink onesie – a la Ralphie. It was actually a smart choice, because it was just pulled over his suit and tie.

    272. ahhhhbree*

      it’s very typical for folks to dress up at my workplace on halloween (we also have a party every year with a costume contest!) i’m at an education nonprofit in NYC – some people have student-facing roles but most of us (myself included) do not.

    273. Mbarr*

      Where: Ontario, Canada
      Industry: Tech
      Type of employees: Salaries full-time – a mix of young and old

      About 10% of employees dress up in any company I’ve ever been to. At my most recent company, those of us who dressed up are having a costume contest with other tech companies in the same building complex.

      Myself, I made a costume to look like our city’s new LRT system. Our LRT is very controversial, and cars keep hitting the LRT… So my bestie made a car costume and we keep deliberately bumping into each other all day.

      In the past, I’ve also dressed up as a lumberjack and Day of The Dead (before it was deemed culturally insensitive – oops).

    274. Aitch Arr*

      I worked at a software company in the Boston area from 2003-2007.

      Halloween was a big deal. We had a costume contest and a party.

      The three years I was around at Halloween (2006 I was on maternity leave), I was:
      – a 70s/80s punk – think Dead Kennedys tee, ripped jeans, Docs, leather jacket, hair ratted/spiked
      – a Victorian lady – corset (under the clothes), long skirt with a petticoat, blouse, elaborate hat
      – Corpse Bride – vintage wedding gown I got at Goodwill, veil, full ghoulish makeup

      One year my boss (head of HR) went as an M&M.

      1. Aitch Arr*

        I now work for a tech research company, still in the Boston area.

        Last year, we did a bring your kid to trick or treat and Halloween decoration contest. One whole floor of our building was decked out. We had an area with a Wizard of Oz theme, an area with a murder mystery theme, and one area with a Day of the Dead theme. The kids (and parents) loved it.

        This year, no formal anything, but a few people are in creative headbands/headgear. I’m wearing spider earrings and have a spider barrette in my hair.

    275. Regina Phalange*

      I used to work at an arts ed. non-profit. Artists+educators= costumes basically being a requirement. Nowhere else I’ve worked has done it, though.

    276. The Great Pumpkin*

      I’m currently on my way to work and I’m dressed like Spiderman. At my old job (public library) we had someone come dressed up as Jigsaw and the Nun. At another old job (publisher) they go all out with costumes and a theme.

    277. Hollyweird*

      I live in Los Angeles working for a logistics company and usually a lot of people dress up. I find it funny that every year they end up scheduling interviews on Halloween so people end up getting interviewed by unicorns and bats.

    278. Jurassicgoddess*

      I’m an accountant, and I wear Halloween costumes pretty regularly. I am usually doing something for my hobby of Dungeons and Dragons after so it’s a lot easier to have the bulk of my costuming done before I leave for work. That said….I only ever wear family friendly stuff, I work for a small company, and my after -work activity is also a family-friendly environment (I run games for the public at a local shop),. There are 2 of us who dress up at my job, and both of us are in kigarumi style fleece suits today(I’m a dragon), with actual clothing underneath, just in case. I did were-tiger/pirate last year and kept my cleavage covered and it was all good!

      My first year I asked and my boss and the company owner both told me that no one else dresses for the day, but that I was absolutely welcome to, provided I could still work and wasn’t inappropriate in my dress. I don’t mind being visible, and my promotion chances are not damaged by my quirkiness here, but I have worked several places where that was NOT DONE and I arranged to leave work early to prep for my events!

    279. Vex-ing Name*

      Yes, dressing up is definitely a thing at my workplace! We even have a costume competition and costume parade judged by the grand bosses. I will say we are in a call center environment though, so we have no issues regarding customers seeing us. Costumes also have to be work appropriate and respectful. It’s a lot of fun, especially because our roles can be pretty high stress. It’s also completely voluntary and no one gets after anyone who doesn’t want to participate.

    280. NYC Ad Spouse*

      I don’t dress up at work, by my spouse does. He works in advertising, NYC. They seem to have sort of a party vibe in that field — the whole office went to a very exciting-looking (based on Instagram) club party at like 5pm yesterday, so they were all in costume, including some theme costumes that were set up to include a whole team or small department.

    281. Beth*

      I used to work in the same Seattle office building where Cranium had its headquarters. They had two full floors in the building.

      I loved riding in the elevator on Halloween: the Cranium people wore incredibly clever costumes, and I got a huge kick out of seeing them.

    282. theletter*

      I work for large tech firm, very career oriented. We have a costume contest, a free pizza lunch, and a smattering of costumes. We also have a lot of divisions dedicated to creative/media, so that might help. Most of the costumes I’ve seen are pretty simple unicorn/deer headband, or a hoodie with a design on it. I think there’s a group that’s coming as the Spider-verse.

      My mom works for a conservative pharmaceutical company and they have a costume contest, which my mother’s team takes very seriously. Last year they won first prize as the cast of Gilligan’s Island.

      I think it can be a fun optional activity for companies that have a lot internal collaboration, as just a chance to be a little silly on a lunch break.

    283. Rainey*

      I once worked for a major textbook publishing company and Halloween was the biggest holiday of the year. People not only dressed up, they decorated their cubicles, and there was a contest for best costume and best cubicle decorations. People got REALLY into it. And this was a big company – we had an entire 7 floor office building with our own cafeteria.

      For my last three jobs (all finance related), employees are allowed to dress up for Halloween, and participation varies from some to none, but no one has done it with anything approaching the fervor of that publishing company.

    284. Heather*

      I’m in a large city in the South, that many people think is progressive but is really fairly conservative. I’ve worked in the finance field for several years, in large office buildings (and one small one) with multiple other departments spanning everything from payroll to billing to IT, etc.

      Every single company I’ve worked for has allowed costumes for Halloween. Participation is usually pretty high. Each place has generally had costume competitions, a party, and one even had an all-day “photo booth” with various props so you could take pictures of each other against a Halloween backdrop.

      Many people do also opt out, and that’s never been an issue either. To be honest, I’ve never heard of a workplace around here that didn’t allow it, although I know different companies and fields would have different policies and norms around it – this is just my direct experience. Personally, I love it.

    285. sparty07*

      I work for a finance company with roughly 200 employees and while today will be one of the busiest days of the month, we have a costume contest as well as a team cube decorating contest. People go all out. This year’s cube themes are Addams Family, Ghostbusters, Charlie Brown Halloween, Toy Story, and Dia de Los Muertos. We have a inflatable t-rex in the toy story, cousin it using hula skirts, I am in a Chewbacca costume to be the bear skin rub, one C level team member is in a full gorilla costume. A couple years ago our male CEO dressed as Snow White. There is no pressure to participate if you don’t celebrate halloween, or don’t want to participate. Also, for those in satellite offices or remote workers can send in pictures to participate.

      We are also ordering in pizza for the office.

    286. Donkey Hotey*

      Seattlite here. All three of the jobs I’ve worked in the last 20 years have all encouraged employee dressing up.
      – First was a credit union (both customer-facing and back-office).
      – Next was a manufacturing office (this one had a full fledged “bring your kids” pizza party but whole departments conspired for group costumes. Favorite was the IT department who all came dressed as Steve Jobs.)
      – Now, I’m in another manufacturing office. Today, I’m one of three people in costume, but previous years have seen 10-20% participation, including assembly floor workers.

    287. Eukomos*

      I have a staff job at a university and am kind of dressed up. I’m just wearing a witch hat and some purple lipstick, so it’s not exactly a full costume, but acknowledging the holiday. No one else in the office is wearing anything festive but I’m not getting sent home for dress code violations or anything. I did stick to the hat and lipstick approach so that I can take the hat off, blot the lipstick, and put on a conservative cardigan should some client-facing activity come up, but it won’t. Dress code in this whole town is pretty casual, like lawyers will show up in courtrooms in business casual, and most of the other people in my office are dressed in head-to-toe REI gear, so there isn’t exactly a lot of pressure to be formal.

    288. blatherskite*

      My workplace takes dressing up for Halloween very seriously. I work for a specialty medical distributor in Columbus, OH. Different departments battle it out for the most original group theme and individuals compete as well. This year I did not participate and was practically shunned.

      Earlier in my career I worked as a pharmacy tech and typically wore scrubs to work. For my first Halloween at that job I dressed as a 70’s flight attendant. People thought I just had a date that night!

    289. Your Friendly Neighborhood Enby*

      I used to work at a tech company that prided itself on its colorful culture, we had a Halloween costume contest every year, decorated everything, etc. It was pretty fun! Other places I’ve worked have mostly stuck to accessories (clown nose, silly hat, etc).

    290. BigRedGum*

      Yes! I am typing this from my desk in my Harry Potter onesie. Everyone on my team (13 people) is dressed up in some way today. We sit next to the accountants (I’m at a huge university) and most of them are no dressed up. It really just depends on the culture, I guess. When else do you get to where a onesie to work or even in public? I love it. I usually work from home on Thursdays but I trade it for Friday just so I could dress up (and participate in the potluck).

      1. BigRedGum*

        Edit: We also had a scary door decorating contest, and I decorated mine as the scariest thing I could think of: student loan debt.

    291. HC in HR*

      For the last 20 years, I’ve mostly worked in companies (finance, food manufacture, tech & biotech) that at least encouraged Halloween decorations, if not costumes too.
      Currently I’m a HR dept. of 1 in a tech company in the SF Area and I’m sitting here in a Renaissance pirate outfit.
      My company encourages work appropriate costumes & we also have a lunch event that parents can bring their kids to and there are goodie bags for all the kids, a costume contest & a kid-friendly games to play.
      There’s usually some decoration in the reception area (giant spiderweb this year). We also bring in pizza for everyone.

    292. haley*

      I work at a publicly traded enterprise software company in San Francisco that has a reputation for whimsy. we are having a costume contest today and most years also have a kid-friendly happy hour with candy and a movie. I was lazy about costumes this year so I’m just wearing a variation of my Renaissance Faire outfit.

      Every tech company I’ve worked at, startup or public, has had folks dress up on Halloween! It’s also a running joke generally that all San Franciscans have a regular closet and a costume closet. We love any excuse to dress up.

    293. Dani_in_the_PM*

      I don’t know the best way to present the details of this story! My 2nd job is at a clothing store with a break room/storage space that has these heavy, floor-to-ceiling, metal shelving units that roll on a track and can be locked in place. For at least the 4 years I’ve worked there, the last shelf in the corner has been stuck in a locked position and I never gave that any thought. People have always told stories about weird smells and sounds in the break room. One Black Friday I remember an associate saying, “It’s haunted back there!” and we’d joke that someone got crushed by the rolling shelves and their spirit was causing trouble. Sometimes we’d hear like music or a movie playing, and we thought it was coming through the wall from the adjacent store. Last week we found out that behind the last shelf, the locked one, there’s a pocket of space. With a mattress, and a sleeping bag. And a very shy middle-aged woman. Management won’t give us ANY details, which I think is super unfair because OBVIOUSLY I WANT TO KNOW EVERYTHING.

        1. Dani_in_the_PM*

          emmelemm no! Does it have a story like this?? I do remember reading about an older woman in Tokyo living in a man’s kitchen cupboard for a while. And Natalie Portman was in a movie where she lived in WalMart for a while, I think?

    294. Close Bracket*

      I am wearing a subtle costume that looks just like regular business wear (except that I am wearing converse, which is not out of the ordinary for my office). I love Halloween, and I love to dress up.

    295. Campfire Raccoon*

      I used to work for a home builder, and Halloween was a BIG DEAL. They’d raid the model-home warehouses and do the CRAZIEST themes for each departments. Contests were held, parties thrown, crockpots brought in.

      We had an honest-to-goodness throne from some fancy model that was brought in – so we decorated accounting as a woodland- The controller was Snow White, us the seven dwarves, and then purchasing was the Evil Queen on her throne with her huntsman. It was hardcore.

    296. JustaTech*

      I’m a scientist in industry and today I’m rocking a light costume (suffragist, so long skirt, collared shirt, sash that says “VOTE” and my hair up in a Gibson girl style). My coworker is wearing a penguin costume (that I loaned her). Tomorrow is our party so more people will dress up for that (I’m a burning 17th century witch, complete with light-up skirt).
      So far most everyone else seems to not be dressed up (probably saving it for tomorrow), but since we’re not outside facing (no one can see your costume on a conference call), our boss just thinks it’s funny.

      Caveat: Halloween has always been a *huge* deal at my site, like, all day party, group costumes and skits big deal, so I wouldn’t take it as a norm. Previous labs I’ve worked in I’ve gone for more street-clothes costumes like Dr Who.

    297. 80's Prom Queen on Halloween.*

      I work at a software company. About half of the folks dress up and some of the teams choose a theme and all dress up together. I’ll say it’s not the most productive day of the year but it hits at the end of a busy season and seems good for morale. I have no doubt our leadership would ban it if costumes became in any way inappropriate.

    298. Rachel Green*

      My office allows costumes at work on Halloween. I work for a state government agency (think, department of health), I don’t want to get more specific than that. In general, we’re a pretty casual office. (Our dress code is business casual, and everyone interprets that differently. We’re allowed to wear jeans on Fridays.) I would estimate maybe 30-40% of people dress up for Halloween. Participation and enthusiasm varies depending on if there are any “events” planned for the day. This year, there’s a charity fundraiser going on so there are more people dressed up than usual. I have worked here 8 years and have only dressed up once. Today, I am wearing an orange sweater, and that’s as festive as I like to get.
      (As an aside, I scheduled a meeting with outside “clients” this morning, and wish I had picked a different day. I don’t think a bunch of adults in costume makes a good impression.)

    299. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

      My company has a full blown costume contest with great prizes. My whole team dressed up as fast-food icons. I am Wendy, we have a Little Caesar, Bob’s Big Boy, Lard Boy (simpsons), Jack in the Box, Ronald McDonald, Starbucks mermaid and a few others. It’s great.

    300. Curious Cat*

      This thread’s already crazy, but to tack on, I work in health care in DC and we often have people dress up! Although today we’ve subbed out costumes for Nationals gear instead ;)

    301. Wonderful Wizard of Oz*

      I work in a Christian faith-based organization in Minneapolis with 25+ people and we dress up for Halloween and Christmas. This is definitely a career and not just a “job” for most people here. Fourth quarter is the busiest time of year for us so taking a small break to wear costumes and have fun is important for people to blow off steam when their working 60 hour weeks.

    302. Keener*

      Engineering consulting firm in British Columbia Canada and about half my office will dress up. We’ll have a costume contest as well. This fits with the company’s culture of having some fun while also doing high quality work.

    303. Ali A*

      Marketing/Ad Agency in Chicago – we go all out, decorations, party, costume contest, etc…But it’s pretty par for the course with our company culture.

    304. Jadelyn*

      I’m at a credit union in California, and we dress up for Halloween, both front and back office. Not everyone, but a lot of people. We restrict use of masks and weapons (even fake ones) for security reasons, but so far today I’ve seen our EFT processing team as scarecrows with their manager as the farmer, my officemate is Spider-Gwen, and our helpdesk manager is a teddy bear. I do elaborate makeup and face-paint instead of costumes – this year I did my face in a circuit board pattern, complete with a couple of processor chips scavenged from actual old computers. In past years we’ve had coworkers do team/group costumes like Cheech and Chong, Sonny and Cher, a football team (don’t remember which one), a flock of birds, stuff like that. There’s a costume contest this afternoon. We take our Halloween seriously, lol.

    305. DivineMissL*

      I work in government. There’s a day care center two doors down, and every year, the teachers and kids (ages infant to 4) walk over in their costumes and trick-or-treat through the offices. The employees hand out candy (they pay for it themselves, no government funds) and decorate their doors. Some of the employees (myself included) dress up while the kids are here, either a full costume or maybe a mask or hat. Then after they leave, everybody changes back to regular clothes. It’s a nice treat for the employees to have some fun for an hour!

    306. XtinaLyn*

      I’m dressed up right now as a blown PG&E transformer (I live in California where my neighborhood has lost power for a total of five days over the last month). We have about 28 people in our office. I think four of us are dressed up. Not many people participate each year, but that means I always win first prize; last year, I was Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

      If we could post pictures, I’d share mine!

    307. NotThatAlexa*

      TL;DR – it happens but it isn’t unique to an industry/area.

      I have worked in corporate jobs for 2 major casino companies and a timeshare company in Las Vegas. Most of the time I’ve seen (and done) the small accessory route or the ‘stealth costume’ (last year when Halloween was on a Wednesday I was Wednesday Addams by wearing a dress/outfit I already owned and braiding my hair, neither of which was out of the ordinary for me, but that’s the boldest I’d gone – my normal standard is regular clothing with a headband that makes an origami Sims gem float over my head). This year I’m at a new (<6 months) job at my second casino company and they go hard for Halloween – decorating offices, dressing up, contests – but it's not on Halloween. Kids here have the last Friday of October off for Nevada Day, so it was last Friday and people were encouraged to bring their kids to the office (during very specific hours) to trick or treat. We got some work done (hilarious photo of me working dressed as Maleficent) but it was mostly a free day hanging out and checking out what other offices did to decorate. Today I'm in regular work clothes but am also wearing big spiderweb earrings (complete with little spiders that hang on a chain or can be attached to a magnet on the web).

    308. Robin*

      I’m in SF Bay Area. People dress up at both my current company and my former company. Former company was a global video game company and current company is a small locally owned company in the finance arena.

    309. theothermadeline*

      My favorite costume that I’ve seen at work today is a senior director at my organization – an Asian man – came dressed as himself but with a “Hello, my name is: Scarlett Johansson” sticker

    310. aurora borealis*

      I work in an Engineering consulting firm, and we most definitely dress up for Halloween. Joe Dirt just walked by my office in Daisy Duke shorts, tank top and mullet, Dorothy and the Lion have made appearances, and I thought I saw a Kardashian. We have a catered lunch, and contests for the best group costume and also individual costumes. We are in a FAR, FAR north small city and have as much fun as work as we can. If people choose not to dress, there isn’t any judgement and they seem to have just as much fun as the costume wearers.

    311. Lorelei Lee*

      Am I allowed to name a specific company since it’s pertinent to the story? I used to work at Spencer Gifts’ home office; Spencer also owns Spirit Halloween stores. We had FANTASTIC Halloween celebrations with elaborate costumes, contests, games, food, decorated offices, etc. I LOVED it. But I think that particular company was an exception to the Halloween-at-work question!

    312. 2 Cents*

      All in the NYC metro area:
      —book publisher (of boring nonfiction and reference titles)
      —boutique ad agency
      —marketing department of hospital

    313. mindovermoneychick*

      My old company in Northern Virginia, just outside of Washington DC. Small company that does training consulting for government agencies. The work is somewhat creative and we had a lot of graphic artists. The 2 founders definitely liked the idea of a fun company and planned our once a year all-hands meeting for this day and brought in lunch. People went all-out, and I mean really all out. Some examples:

      1. One year we had an employee come as a Dwight Shrute bobblehead that actually bobbled and that he made himself out of paper mache. (and he later got a gig as one of the Nat’s racing presidents by sending in that picture).
      2. The next year during H1N1 virus season he came as a giant bottle of Purell that actually dispensed Purell. And this guy was one of our writers, not even an artist.
      3. We had a woman come as a paper doll with 3 beautiful dresses she made out of wrapping paper the night before.
      4. I’m a rollerhockey player and not that creative, so I usually went in all my gear and wore a pro jersey and claimed it was a different costume every year (“This year I’m Alex Ovechkin- last year I was clearly Wayne Gretsky – It’s totally different!”) Also we had long hardwood floors and I got to rollerblade up and down them all day long.

      Of course we has all manner of store-bought customs and rented costumes as well. We gave out prizes for the best costumes and yes, if we had meetings scheduled with clients in the office that day we kept the costumes on.

      Also if anyone from my old company is reading this they completely know who I am now ;)

    314. MCMonkeyBean*

      I’ve been an accountant for two different Fortune 500 companies and I always dress up for Halloween. Usually there aren’t a ton of people dressed up, but enough that’s it not weird for me to do so. People usually bring in lots of treats to share.

      I have seen some people go all out with like wigs and stuff but I have fun trying to make office-appropriate costumes out of mostly stuff I might wear to work anyway.

      This year I am Luna Lovegood, which clothing wise is basically a dress with teal leggings and some striped leg warmers, plus some quirky accessories.

      In the past I have done things like the 11th Doctor (dress pants with a button down, suspenders and a bowtie), Calvin of Calvin & Hobbes (my husband was my Hobbes but I carried a stuffed tiger when I was apart from him like at work and my costume was just black jeans and a red and black striped shirt), Archie of Archie Comics (orange pants, black sweater vest, green bowtie, the Scarlet Witch (a black dress with a red jacket, knee high black socks and some wrist cuffs).

    315. Kheldarson*

      I work in a government agency. Our HR person had her husband do a peel away face prosthetic (he does special effects, so it’s awesome); we’ve got an angel, a devil, and a few cat ears floating around. I’ve done Renaissance garb before, but it’s too hot this year for me to want to do all that, lol.

      I’ve done Halloween costumes for retail work too.

    316. Urdnot Bakara*

      I work at a nonprofit association in Washington, DC. An email went out yesterday from our office manager saying people had asked her if they could dress up, and assuring everyone it was fine as long as the costumes were appropriate, no masks, no face paint, etc. A handful of people are dressed up today. This is my 3rd Halloween here and the first one people have dressed up for, that I can remember!

      Earlier today, we also saw a parade of children from a local elementary school all dressed up, trick-or-treating at local businesses. I am from a southern state and we were never allowed to dress in costume for school, so this is very new to me!

    317. BasicWitch*

      Several coworkers and I dress up, though not everyone does. Nothing crazy, scandalous, PG13+, etc. We’re a small non-profit and nobody minds a little bit of fun – one year a top-level employee came dressed as Albert Einstein. A few people decorated their cubes and are wearing little touches of spooky, like spider earrings and such.

      I am wearing office clothes I normally wear, but all black, with a pointy hat and pointy heels. I am an office witch, and I’d wear this every day if I could. :P

    318. poolgirl*

      I work at the largest branch of a Federal Agency, and dressing up for Halloween is popular, and participation is growing every year. Only a tiny fraction of us interact with the public on a regular basis, however. Some of the best costumes today were the best skeleton costume I’ve ever seen, an elaborate Pirates of the Caribbean style pirate costume, the nun from The Blues Brothers complete with ruler, and a Nacho Libre style Luchador.

    319. Forgot My Costume This Year*

      I work for a local transit authority (public sector) and the office staff absolutely dresses up for Halloween. We even have a potluck to show off our costumes.

    320. AKchic*

      Currently at work, wearing a Ms. Frizzle dress. In previous years I have dressed up as a corporate devil, worn a full 16th century celtic dress (I’m a rennie, so that was easy), been a pirate (again, an easy costume), Minerva McGonagall (both student and teacher), a generic 50’s era housewife, a mad scientist, and little red riding hood.

      Halloween is my favorite holiday, and I love costumes. I always choose something I can easily move around in for the office. At my last job, we used to have little kids coming through to trick or treat, so costumes were encouraged. This job… well, not so much. I’m the only one who’s dressing up. But, I also have a wedding I’m going to be at right after work, and it was requested that Ms. Frizzle be the one to officiate, so… here I am.

      I’ve been in other places where costumes were seriously frowned upon (food service, conservative offices) and I changed up my hair ties and what jewelry I could wear, or my make-up if I could wear any (food service – no nail polish), and always wore fun socks.

      1. emmelemm*

        I think if you’re just devoted to Halloween but don’t want to “stand out” in your environment, fun socks are always the way to go. You know you’re wearing them!

        1. AKchic*

          Yep. If you can’t be flashy, by discrete. Nobody needs to know that your underwear has Frankenstein or black kitty cats all over it.
          Nobody needs to know that you’re wearing the cutest little blood splatter socks under your professional black slacks and sensible shoes.
          Oh, how cute, you’ve got a nifty little pumpkin pin on your blazer today. Isn’t that festive! My my! That scarf is seasonally appropriate, what with it being orange with bat print! Oh, I didn’t even notice that your earrings were orange and black (or purple and green, or tiny spider studs, or ghosts, or whatever).

          People really don’t notice the small stuff. And really, make it small stuff. Accents. Nothing major. Don’t go overboard on the accessorizing if your office doesn’t *do* the holiday stuff. Much like expensive perfume – a dab will do.

    321. Hedgehug*

      Call Centers. Best costume. Best decorated cubicle. Best decorated team row (row of cubicles all themed together).

    322. OwlEditor*

      I have limited experience with this as I’ve only been in the professional workforce for about five years. At my former job we had an afternoon Trick or Treat time for the employees’ and their families. You were not required to participate, but we had candy for the kids. One manager handed out broccoli and carrots. It was working for the IT branch of a religious organization. It was fun, especially when families had themes. One department always did a haunted alley, which was very popular.
      At my current job (an online university), every Halloween we have the same thing. For two hours employees can bring family and go trick or treating throughout our office building. Which will be great this year as it is only 30 degrees outside today!
      I LOVE it! We can dress up as long as we follow the rules sent out. Decorating cubicles is allowed, but there are set rules sent out every year on what is allowed. There are also signs we put up that say “Trick or Treat Here.” Again, completely voluntary. I love it! It’s a chance to see coworkers and their kids and some very creative costumes. Last year a young man dressed as Weird Al. And the answers you get for the costumes are hilarious. I dress up every time and you can supply candy (I went overboard this year) on your own dime. I love it! It’s one of my favorite times of the year!

    323. Adalind*

      I work in the Northeast US at a regional bank and people dress up every year. They actually have company-wide contests in the corporate offices and branches for it as well. Some departments go all out (like mine) and some don’t.

    324. Pink Hair Don't Care*

      We have a small office but we could dress up if we wanted to. Today I chose to wear a set of “Haunted Mansion” Themed Mouse ears purchased at Disney World. Everyone is getting a good laugh out of them but its not over the top or distracting. I have to write someone up today so I plan on taking them off to do that. They’re easy, silly and fun.

    325. Zephy*

      Higher ed administration – the departments had a costume and pumpkin carving contest today and my team won, so there. ;) The tippy-top of campus leadership doesn’t get in on costumes (as might be expected), but the department heads did. Nobody went all-out for a perfect dead-ringer cosplay or anything* – my department wore Mardi Gras masks and beads, another department all dressed as “dominoes” by wearing all black with white belts and taping white paper circles to their shirts and pants, another department dressed like “nerds” with taped-up glasses and suspenders. (*I did see someone walk by in what I think was a Barb from Stranger Things costume? but she may have been a student, not sure.)

      Previous job was an animal shelter; I was there for three Halloweens, and during my tenure they did an annual costume, inter-office trick-or-treat, and office decoration contest. The IT guy went all out every year and dominated all three.

    326. emmelemm*

      It’s funny, I’ve always worked in office-y offices for about 3o years now, and I’ve rarely if ever seen Halloween costumes.

      Strangely enough: My partner is a lawyer in a really small firm, and just last night, he was texting the receptionist/office guru (about funny non-office stuff), and the receptionist replied, “We’re dressing up tomorrow, you know!” There’s a *possibility* he was pranking my partner, but it’s also possible they don’t have any client meetings scheduled tomorrow and they’re just dressing up to be silly. My partner’s been there over a year but less than two years, so he was there last Halloween and I definitely don’t remember there being any costumes last year.

      1. CanCan*

        I’ve worked in a law office that dressed up for Halloween. Costumes would have to be slightly more tame (e.g. no blood and gore), and the more senior lawyers might still wear suits but have a silly mask that they can slide to the top of the head.

        May not be a good idea for law firms that deal with seriously emotional issues, like divorce, personal injury, criminal. But ours was a real estate / business law firm, so clients were cool with some fun.

    327. Umiel*

      I work in a large state-government organization. I don’t dress up for Halloween, but I was surprised today to discover that several high-level directors and several executives all dressed up. I’ve seen one director-level person dressed as a pumpkin. There are several witches, a lounge singer, a couple of sharks, and others. This is normally a fairly stodgy organization, so I wasn’t expecting so much participation.

    328. Itsfine*

      Case management for a insurance company. When I worked for a product that assisted a population of children we did elaborate themes. Now I work in the same setting with a different product but we are still encouraged to dress up as a way to boost morale and the company has contests, games, and prizes. People who have customer facing jobs where they have face to face meetings don’t usually participate and if they do, they tend to change clothes but it is part of the culture here, or at least has been historically.

    329. not that kind of Doctor*

      I’m an accountant, currently Aziraphale. Previously I’ve been Batgirl, Doctor Who, and a Star Trek science officer at work. At my current job, which is a retail & manufacturing company, about 10-20% of people dress up, mostly IT and Assembly. (ERP manager is currently Death.) At my last job about half the company dressed up, not the sales guys who were no fun anyway, but most of sales support & admin.

    330. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

      When I worked for a local printing and direct mail company, Halloween was HUGE. There was a costume contest with multiple categories and really, really good prizes. HR would throw an hour long party for everyone in the company (which is when the costume winners would be revealed) with yummy food and treat bags and silliness. It was pretty great!

      I’ve also worked in leasing offices where dressing up was encouraged–sometimes as part of a resident event, but more often it was just because Halloween and costumes are fun.

    331. CanCan*

      I’m with a medium-sized government agency involved in land planning (generally speaking). We don’t often interact with the public face to face. My group (in-house legal, about 10 of us) dresses up as a group costume every year (last 5 years: 80’s look, zombies, law & order, soccer team, rock stars). We also secretly prepare a costume for our boss (technically grandboss for most of us). He only finds out what it is when he puts it on.

      The rest of the workplace – some people dress up, some don’t. This year, the social club had a costume competition, so we had at least 50 dress up (out of about 300 at this location).

    332. SisterSpooky*

      I work at a financial institution, in the call center so not customer facing, but even our tellers are allowed to dress up, and many people do. Some in back offices go all out. The only rules are that you can’t cover your face (bank rules), nothing too revealing, no fake weapons (again, bank rules) and if you’re in a role that is customer facing nothing too scary as children come into the branch.

    333. Emmykins*

      I work at a large, well known company headquartered in the Midwest.

      Today I had a meeting with Minnie Mouse! I sit next to Maleficent and someone is walking around as EDM DJ Marshmello. Lol.

      I’m enjoying the costumes but feel under no obligation to dress up myself.

    334. Beach kitty*

      I work in real estate, live in south florida and am wearing cat ears to work today. My boss is wearing halloween themed accessories and one of our agents work a full-face cat mask to work today.

    335. RB*

      We dress up at my regional government office in the Pacific Northwest. It’s fun and lots of people participate. There’s no pressure and plenty of people don’t dress up. It’s about 50-50 depending on whether you include the people who just wear a funny wig or hat. Some bring their outfit but don’t put it on until lunchtime when we have a lunch with prizes.

      The first year here, I wasn’t sure of the Halloween culture so I just wore some spider-web tights and normal clothes. But when I saw how many people dress up, I started doing it too.

      The other two places I worked, also in the PNW, people dressed up but probably less than a third of the office participated and there was no formal lunch or prizes.

    336. Kinkajou*

      Large media group here. We have an office wide Halloween party with treats and various costume contests. With the exception of the on-air talent, the majority of people dress up and really go all out.

    337. Nanobots*

      I’ve worked for two corporations where people do dress up, and two where people most definitely didn’t dress up. The two places where people wear costumes were definitely the two that had the more enjoyable culture.

      One of the places is very hardcore about it. Departments coordinate group costumes and the decorations are to the max. There would be little “parades” through the day of people in costume. It was great, except that my coworker in costume had to unexpectedly fire someone. She removed as much as she could, but you could still tell that she had been costumed.

      At my current place, we mildly do costumes: we decorate shirts and you can add more costume pieces. There are prizes for different categories (scariest, funniest, most unique). I actually enjoy that style more because there’s less pressure to have an amAaAaAaAzing costume.

      1. Nanobots*

        Should have listed the industries:
        1. Large medical device co – VERY into costumes
        2. Small medical device co – not into costumes
        3. Large medical device co – VERY MUCH NOT into costumes, ANTI costumes
        4. Large Apparel co – low-key into costumes

    338. Nonny456*

      I work for a tech company in the Boston area and we normally have a small office party and costume contest/group picture. We’re relatively small (~100 people) and have a very casual dress culture to begin with. Definitely a minority of people dress up, but some always do.

    339. Landshark*

      I wore a costume to work today. It wasn’t only allowed but actually actively ENCOURAGED!

      However, I work in a community college. Academia is a weird little microcosm with it’s own rules. But the deans’ rationale was that it shows that we are fun and engaging and that improves retention. Not sure how legit that is, but I saw a lot of faculty and staff in costume, and I like dressing up, so I was okay with it.

    340. Libby*

      I find it funny that people think that workplaces where people have “jobs, not careers” (#Elitism) are where people dress up. The place I worked where the most people dressed up and there was even an office-wide contest? The in house legal office of a Fortune 100 company.

    341. Krabby*

      I’ve worked in tech companies all across Canada and I’ve literally never been at a workplace where Halloween wasn’t a Big Deal. We always do a full costume competition (with pretty hefty cash prizes for the winners), and a party that starts a few hours before work typically ends, involving booze, pizza and candy.

      It’s honestly weird to me hearing that other people find dressing up at work for Halloween weird.

    342. EngineerMom*

      Very large company that produces medical devices and materials, based in the Midwest (greater Chicago area).

      I’d say somewhere between 35-50% of our office staff dress up for Halloween. There’s a group picture of everyone who dressed up, and some very light teasing of those who didn’t (but genuinely no bad feelings). Our employees who work in manufacturing or the labs are permitted to dress up if the costume conforms with the dress code requirements of their work spaces (some are various levels of clean rooms), and they are encouraged to come to the group picture if they did choose to wear a costume. For the record, my “costume” was a pumpkin shirt. One coworker dressed up as David Bowie, complete with makeup, and there were some others in onesie-type costumes. It really ran the gamut from folks who love dressing up for Halloween through to those of us who enjoy the holiday, but prefer not to spend the entire day in a full costume.

      It’s been like this everywhere I’ve worked, in the Twin Cities, greater Cincinnati area, and several companies in the greater Chicago area, from small family-owned places with fewer than 100 employees, all the way up to giants like GE. I’ve mostly worked in engineering, so office-based and not customer-facing. I’ve also worked in a nursing home and a coffee shop, and both those definitely had a culture of dressing up for Halloween.

    343. Silicon Valley Girl*

      20+ years in high tech, from startups to big name companies, & they’ve all allowed / encouraged employees to dress up on Halloween. Usually have some kind of party or costume contest as well. Participation is all over the map from huge elaborate costumes & themed groups to simple ‘wear black + cat ears’ stuff.

      My team was all working remote today, so for our staff meeting all but one us just added funny hats that could be seen on the video call :)

    344. Shelbey*

      I work in a small county government office in California and about half of us dressed up! We try and go for a group theme; this year we are the weather! I am just wearing gray and have a rain cloud hat. Its pretty common in our local government offices to dress up casually, but some years people will go all out with cubicle contests and what not. .

    345. Something Creative*

      Tech sales!

      I’ve worked mostly for inside sales centers for large tech companies. The employee base is young and not customer facing and they pride themselves on having a fun/hip work environment. To that end, they encourage dressing up (with even directors and VPs participating), host a fall festival for employees to bring their kids trick or treating to, a costume party, pumpkin painting party, etc. etc., usually with food and drink provided. I love it, but that’s just me. There’s always some people who don’t dress up or participate and they’re not ostracized or punished in any way.

    346. Thundersnow*

      I’ve worn a Halloween costume to work when I worked for an animal shelter in Missouri, and for a corporate insurance company in both Missouri and Texas! They do require that costumes be work-appropriate, of course, but it’s all been good fun and my department has a costume contest for people who want to participate.

      I will also say it’s really funny to see an energetic hound dog try to tackle a very wearing a Big Bird suit.

    347. Happy Pineapple*

      I work for an enormous international technology and finance company, and lots of people dress up for Halloween at our non-public-facing offices. It’s quite amusing to see usually serious software engineers as princesses and teddy bears.

    348. RBG*

      My office hasn’t but did for the first time in a long time this year. I organized the party and a trick or treating scavenger hunt. I work at a health department, but on the regulatory/paperwork side, no patients here. We have a morale issue where people are really siloed in their work, and have been working to break down these barriers and help people connect as humans as part of our anti-racism work.

    349. Ha2*

      I dressed up today! I do software/tech stuff at a big tech company between San Jose. Looking around in the cafeteria at lunch, about 5 to 10 percent of people dressed up maybe? In a meeting earlier we had three people in costume, one kind of , and eight not.

      Previous company I was at was more into Halloween. There were inter-group contests for decorating and a prize. It was a startup also in the Bay Area.

    350. Halloween Costumes R Us*

      State agency with two division of another state agency in our building. We do an annual costume contest and put pics on Facebook for people to react to. Most reactions gets a prize. Next year, we are challenging three other state agencies to a costume contest as well. Our immediate office does a group costume usually.

    351. penrock*

      I work for a creative agency so yes, people dress up (but not as many as you’d think and not all that creative, hmm) – but in themes. Movies, album covers, celebrities, etc. I have never been a “dress up at work” person because for me, work is work. I don’t need it to be super fun via outside influence. But I’m a square like that.

    352. r.d.*

      I work for a tech company in Colorado and the company has a costume contest over lunch every year. I would say less than 50% of people dress up, there are still plenty who do and they usually wear full on costumes all day.

      People also dressed up at my last two jobs, where I worked for companies that were in big agra and criminal justice, so it’s not limited to tech in my area.

      I haven’t dressed up the past couple of years, but I used to, before all my halloween energy was spent on kid costumes.

    353. Wednesday Addams*

      It’s definitely been A Thing everywhere I’ve worked. Just today one of the IT guys in our 400+ person office came in dressed as Groot, complete with stilts. The other IT guys also dressed as comic book characters and they came around the different floors and people took pictures with them. But we also had a conference room dedicated to snacks and Halloween movies for people who wanted a fun break during their day so, we are a Halloween Office.

    354. LadyProg*

      I work in Montreal (Canada) in video games and most companies I know do Halloween costumes, even costume contests! The offices get decorated and all, lots of fun :)

    355. Not That Kind of Lawyer*

      I am an attorney and we definitely dress up for Halloween in New Orleans, LA (We also wear costumes for Mardi Gras). We do not dress up if we have a trial set or a presentation, but even the judges and court staff often have a costume in chambers or in their office for any potential Halloween lunch or party. The degree of investment varies from no costumes and cat ears to inflatable dinosaurs. It all depends on comfort. It is also completely optional. No one cares if you don’t dree up, but if you do be ready to be in a photo. This year my team was dressed as the silverware from Beauty and the Beast – all homemade.

    356. Not Rebee*

      My current job is getting less and less Halloween-y as years go by, but my Old JOb (2 years ago) at a mortgage company definitely dressed up. One time, the underwriting department dressed up as Money Launderers!

    357. I don't like dressing up*

      I am not a fan of Halloween, and I don’t like dressing up 90 percent of the time. Unfortunately, my division hosts a Halloween picnic for employees at my workplace. Costumes are completely optional for attendees…but if you work in my division (and especially in my office), you are VERY STRONGLY encouraged for SEVERAL MONTHS to dress up. They will start asking in August. This year, they even assigned us a theme. If you say no, they will call you a party pooper, and it’s difficult to be the only person in the office who does not participate.

    358. ligirl*

      I work at a tech company in the Bay Area and currently about 5-10% of my coworkers are in costume

    359. Little Orange Nail*

      I work in management at an insurance administrator in the desert southwest. Our general dress code is business casual (jeans only on Fridays, etc) and we rarely have clients in the office.

      I would say about 1/3 of the office came in costume today, another 1/3 wore orange shirts, funny ears, etc. Costumes are not over the top: I dressed as Elizabeth Holmes, we had a guy who dressed as the Bounty lumberjack, one department came dressed as the Men In Black, etc. So mostly costumes based on regular clothes. We had a group picture, and a potluck lunch where the company bought the main dish, but no party.

      I have worked at other places with similar costume habits, and places it wasn’t a thing. There didn’t seem to be much correlation to geographic location, job/career, industry, etc.

    360. Eric*

      I work for a fairly large regional insurance company and people do dress up for Halloween, but the costume does need to be approved (usually a photo beforehand). The company has company-wide voting for best costume and best carved pumpkin, plus they’ll have people do a reverse trick-or-treat, where you can bring in your own and distribute to folks who may want. It’s fun and not at all disruptive.

    361. Raine W.*

      I work for a small (less than 50 employees) mechanical engineering firm, and have done so for the past five years. We’ve always had a Halloween costume contest, which I won one year, and it’s always involved 90% of the employees, either as a group or individually. I love it!

      That said – I’ve worked elsewhere where dressing up on Halloween was considered… weird/childish/unprofessional. It only works if you have a supportive, fun culture that understands it’s one day out the year & if deadlines happen on Halloween, you still need to get your work done regardless of whether you’re in costume or not. I think it would be inappropriate, even in my current office culture, to do a full-on acting job of being a character vs. being in costume.

    362. Stephanie*

      I work at a cyber security firm with ~70 employees. It’s located in New York (not City; closer to upstate). Many people go all out for Halloween (including remote employees) and there is a costume contest with several categories and prizes. There’s a variety of themed snacks and a cider donut eating contest for anyone who wants to participate. Our industry can be high stress and sometimes requires long hours and/or travel, so our People & Culture team works hard to make sure that we’re all able to have fun and blow off some steam every once in a while. We’re a respected name in the industry, but our culture is generally pretty relaxed.

    363. Mockingdragon*

      My former office dressed up and even had an inter-department costume contest. It was fun! No children, we were an office and a lab doing scientific reports. We just skewed younger and enjoyed costumes. I think the office before that did costumes, too. Not mandatory, but no reason not to. That was a call center.

    364. A different name*

      Publishing wears costumes! At least some of it. I have always dressed festively (goth stuff, spider jewelry, etc.) but a few years ago we got less conservative management who decided to gently encourage costumes, and now it’s a yearly event with party, contest, and everything.

      I know other houses do too- and pretty sure most of the big ones have big parties.

    365. Erin*

      I work in tech at a giant world wide tech company. Halloweek is sacred. I’m usually in meetings as Wonder Woman or Octomom or Tinkerbell with Goldie Locks, Spider-Man and Elvira, etc. All week. It’s hard to get actual work accomplished during the week with all of the competitions for best haunted org, best candy offerings, costume contests & Hallowine hours. It makes me giggle all week and I love it

    366. ZebraNeighbor*

      I work around Austin TX, and have worn some kind of costume to work for 19 years. This year I was a Sith lord (I have an awesome light saber). We’re not customer-facing in general, but we do occasionally have customers come in. My husband’s office has trick-or-treating for employees’ kids. Most of our workplaces have been tech-related, often SaaS. Most workplaces around here have a costume contest, maybe a potluck or just snacks. I’ve dressed up at tiny companies, and at the big ones such as Dell.

    367. ENFP in Texas*

      I’m in the Dallas, Texas area, Fortune 50 company, in an office. A handful of folks wear a costume (nothing elaborate – maybe cat ears on a headband and whiskers drawn on their face), a few more will wear themed clothing like pumpkin jewelry, but most won’t dress any differently than any other day.

    368. Lunita*

      I work for a nonprofit in affordable housing development in Los Angeles. We don’t work with kids at all in my office but many of us usually dress up and have a small Halloween party, including a costume contest some years.

    369. Emily Livingston*

      My work explicitly encourages dress-up! The owners are really into it so it’s an opportunity for an afternoon party lunch. It’s our second biggest holiday behind Christmas. We’re a medium-sized contract manufacturer with probably about 200 people in the building most days. My department is in charge of arranging food and decorations. We start the day normal and then around 1:30 people who have costumes are excused to get changed. We take pictures of anyone who wants to enter the costume contest and then have a little parade around the warehouse at 2. 2:15 to 3:30 we have tables set up for lunch (this year it was chick-fil-a, pizza, a bunch of chip dips, and apples with caramel dip. We have potluck desserts as well. We post up pictures of the costumes and everyone has a few days to vote. Then in our weekly meeting winners are announced and get like a $10 wawa gift card.

    370. Rivakonneva*

      I dressed up yesterday! I wore a black robe, lace collar and carried a cheap red lightsaber. I was Ruth Vader Ginsburg, Supreme Court Justice for the Dark Side. :)

      I work in an academic library, so it was an easy costume to assemble and remove quickly should I get called into a meeting with the visiting Dean.

    371. GMD*

      I work at a large corporate engineering firm in one of their big east coast city offices and dressing up is basically mandatory. People jokingly told me I would be shunned if I did not the first year (in reality no on is actually upset if you don’t dress up). People go all out with work related costumes and some even bring their kids in and do family costumes. At the end of the day we have a party with a costume contest and baked good that everyone brought in. It’s honestly so fun and I would miss it if I worked at an office that didn’t like to celebrate.

    372. Margaery Tyrell*

      I work at a tech company and we go all out! Not everybody participates (I’d say we’re at maybe 30% costume participation) but it’s a decent enough number of people that it’s a fun time (and we have a costume contest!).

    373. Duchess Conseula Banana Hammock*

      “I have spent my working life in legal and policy-oriented workplaces in Massachusetts and New York State”

      This part is extremely funny to me because my friends at the ACLU in New York all dress up.

    374. Struggle bus is real*

      My job decided to allow costumes and even give a prize of an extra half hour at lunch the next day! About half of us participated and it was a very fun day. What I really liked was they sent out an email with very clear expectations; g rated, work appropriate, not revealing, etc. It was really nice to have clear cut guidelines to check off. I went as Belle, but everyone thought I was Dorthy lol.

    375. Lyn By the River*

      This is more of a humorous (in hindsight) story about why I now do NOT dress up for Halloween at work, rather than an actual answer to the question:
      In college I worked the swing shift as the front desk clerk for a large chain hotel in my small college town in Oregon. My coworkers (mostly the restaurant staff and the housekeeper at that time of day) dressed up for Halloween and it was just seen as part of the fun of the day. I dressed up as a pirate with a wig, fake beard and chest hair that i’d applied with make up (i’m female).
      Late that evening I heard someone banging on a side entrance door. It was also the only access point for people in wheelchairs, as the front door had steps. Apparently the door had been locked (I think this was a common security measure, but it made the disabled access point inaccessible!). The man at the door was in a wheelchair and he was furious. I was doing my best to acknowledge his concerns and frustration and provide good customer service, etc. I felt horrible! (My aunt was also in a wheelchair so I knew the frustrations that she’d experienced!) I remember standing at the desk with him, realizing that my words were not effective, and feeling certain that my ridiculous outfit was undermining my perceived sincerity and ability to be seen as a competent person that could address his problem. I’m sure I gave him some upgrades and meal vouchers, and I know also decided then and there to never dress up for Halloween at work again!

    376. Enginear*

      I work a couple hours drive away from HQ. HQ holds about 95% of the employees (couple hundred employees) in my department. This year was the first year I had a meeting during Halloween at HQ and I was surprised at how many people dressed up for Halloween. I’m talking full body costumes, painted faces, etc. I should also note that at HQ on a regular day, everyone dresses super professional. At my home base, people would give you a weird look if you were dressed in a button up shirt with tie and slacks. I actually thought it was super cool that people dressed up.

    377. Glitsy Gus*

      I work at a biotech company that’s normally “Silicon Valley Business Casual” (read: hoodies and jeans). Folks don’t usually go too nuts with it, no inflatable dinosaurs or Queen Elizabeth I or anything, you will see quite a few costumes in the office on Halloween.

      Granted, I work in San Francisco, where seeing a man in a skin-tight leopard costume riding a unicycle down Market Street at noon is referred to as “Tuesday.”

    378. Mary*

      I live on the West Coast and work for my state’s health department, where the dress code tends to be business casual at best, and about a quarter of our employees dress up. We were evenly split between regular clothes with fun accessories and full on costumes; personally I went for a black dress, mermaid leggings and some seashell accessories. People who had outside meetings and/or interactions with the public didn’t dress up or had something that easily changed back into normal clothes.

    379. Charlotte Collins*

      I’m a little late to the party, but I wanted to weigh in. I work in a midwestern city known for it’s Halloween celebration. I’ve worked at an insurance company and a state agency. In both, there’s an actual costume contest on Halloween. (At the state agency, it’s tied to our annual charity drive.) Oddly, more people dressed up at the insurance company, including group costumes. But people do at least wear Halloween-themed clothing.

      The IT and Customer Service departments were the most into dressing up at the insurance company. So, it was split between high and low-paying jobs. Generally, execs didn’t dress up, but they might help emcee the contest.

    380. Trish*

      I work in a division of a large media corp. I don’t know that any of the other locations celebrate like ours. But fall in our part of the US is about three things: college football, chili & Halloween… did I mention football?

      This year we had the chili contest on the 30th and the Halloween party was catered chili with our costume contest.
      There’s no pressure to dress up, but most of the staff (who aren’t out on sales calls) at least wear a Halloween t-shirt or headband.

  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    In addition to Alison’s excellent scripts, OP#5, it sounds like it may also be helpful to request accommodation. And it might make sense to suggest that your coworker do the same. It’s not reasonable for their accommodation plan for physical labor to be “OP will always do the physical things I cannot.”

    1. Julia*

      This. Coworker thinks their physical health should excuse them from doing their job, but the same reason doesn’t apply to OP5??

      As for Halloween, many career type people in my office dressed up today, and I was made to wear ears. It’s a fairly casual (though famous and huge) company related to entertainment though.

      1. Liane*

        I don’t think the OP has said straight out, “I can’t help you on ABC, because of old injury.” It reads like she’s been saying things like, “I can in 20 minutes,” or “Monday afternoon or Thursday before lunch I am free for ABC.”

        1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          This. Even if she hadn’t aggravated an old injury, she’s not obligated to do the other person’s job for them. There’s being a team player, and then there’s doing somebody’s job for them. Learn to say no OP (as in you can no longer help at all) – it doesn’t make you rude or not willing to pitch in when needed. Your co-worker is being rude by taking advantage of you and making her problem your problem.

        2. OP #5*

          You are correct. I have been giving specific times when I can help or if I’ve caught them mentioning that I am unable to assist that day. When I first re-aggravated it (not in the workplace), I told them I could not assist with the job. But I haven’t mentioned again.

          At this point I have to make both clear. I am really terrible at saying no, as many have discerned from my post. It’s also been worse because I am in this new role, and trying to be a “team player” in an employee crisis has now lead to me being taken advantage of. But at this point I can’t be responsible for it any longer and I need to buck up and seek clarification and be clear in my needs in this situation.

          1. Artemesia*

            The old injury is a crisp clear reason to cut off further discussion. What you don’t want is wheedling — ‘oh maybe later’ type stuff. You have established that you are a pushover so you need something to ‘re-set’ expectations and the ‘aggravated an old injury’ is that reset button. So now you can’t do it — not today, not tomorrow, not afte’r lunch, not ‘just sometimes.’ Not in a box, with a fox, etc etc. ‘Oh I wish I could help with that but doing this has aggravated an old injury and I cannot risk it any longer ‘ Then don’t. Not once, not twice, not with the mice or with a dunce or whatever.

            It is easier to take this kind of total stance than to negotiate a dozen times a week.

    2. Engineer Girl*

      I agree. The accommodation should also protect against retaliation.

      I think the most telling thing about this is the coworker saying “well, what am I supposed to do?”. That statement is a complete abdication of responsibility. It’s dumping on the OP. It isn’t OPs job to manage the coworkers workload. OP should feel no guilt whatsoever on protecting their time and health.

        1. Myrin*

          Yeah, people who say that in situations like this one are so aggravating! Like, I don’t know and I don’t need to know because it’s not my problem (except for your making it my problem :| ). Figure something out! Jeez.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      It’s not a particularly terrible assumption that having a coworker help you with a physical task a couple of times a week is a reasonable accommodation for things that you can’t physically do. In most cases this would be exactly how things would be handled – Employee X has a twice weekly task they can’t do due to physical limitations, so it’s assigned to Employee Y instead.

      The problem here is that it doesn’t sound like there has been any official decision that this is part of the OP’s job now. If there had been, the OP could explain that she’s not dressed for the work, that she doesn’t have time to do it in addition to her usual duties, and that she can’t physically do it in the first place. The coworker getting annoyed when the OP doesn’t drop her primary work tasks and come running immediately is also a problem.

      So I think it’s probably a good idea for the OP to loop in her own manager as well – explain that she had been happy to help out occasionally, but it’s causing problems and she can’t keep doing it. Then she’s got backing when she tells her coworker that she can’t help out anymore.

      1. Ama*

        I have seen this play out a number of times (not always with physical tasks, but with a coworker being asked to “help” with something that’s not their job) and it pretty much always boils down to a miscommunication of expectations. Usually it is that the person doing the asking(Employee X to use your example) is given the impression that the person they are asked IS now supposed to help as part of their job, while the person being asked (Employee Y) is given the impression that it’s just an occasional or temporary thing until other arrangements can be made. Then Employee X gets confused and frustrated when Employee Y is like “wait, hold on this wasn’t what I agreed to.”

        In my experience, getting managers involved — not in the “I’m complaining about this” sense but in the “hey, I need some clarification on what I am supposed to do with these requests because it seems like we’re not on the same page here” is really the best way to get things settled.

        1. Vemasi*

          This could definitely be the case. However, it seems to me like Employee X is just taking advantage of OP, by the very fact of OP being the one who is helping. I don’t know what this company’s structure is like, but it is very strange to me that an employee doing physical work asked an employee in business casual dress (and therefore presumably outside their department) to regularly help with physical tasks. Employee X should know better than others that comfortable clothing is necessary for physical work.

          It sounds to me like Employee X is trying to hide their temporary inability to do their own work from their peers (if they have any) and/or manager, and took the new employee’s offer to help if it was ever needed too far, and is treating their own work as more important than OP’s. Managers should be involved to clarify this situation and get Employee X any accommodations they might need.

    4. Phoenix Programmer*

      OP 5 has fallen into the classic nice trap at work.

      You ever so kindly helped a team and went above and beyond.

      Said team internalized that it’s your job to help them.

      Result was lots of lip when you can’t go above and beyond and no thanks when you do.

      No you are having to put your foot down about these extra tasks and tge other team I going to be irritated about it. Your boss is going to be irritated about the fact that he has to help smooth this over.

      The reward for being helpful is everyone is mad at you now.

      So take this as a lesson – only help out when doing so is:
      – helpful to your career.
      – helpful to someone you care about
      – helpful (and known) to your boss.

      Otherwise nope it up and down to those other duties as assigned.

      1. OP #5*

        This was a really helpful breakdown for me of how to deal with this going forward.

        I did and often do fall into the nice trap and struggle to get out of it. I want to be helpful and seen as someone who can be relied on, so when I have an ability with something I want to pitch in. But then it ends up with me taking on too much or being taken advantage of. Thanks!

        1. RecoveringSWO*

          Phoenix and Ama*’s both make great points here. One thing I would add is that new employees are prime targets for coworkers looking to take advantage of the newbies and understaffed teams looking for an unreasonable amount of extra help. I’m also a fan of being a team player and had to be taught early on to be more protective of my time when I’m new to a workplace. If you feel uncomfortable saying no, try to think about saying no as setting good expectations for your long term workload and productivity. And definitely loop in your boss, there’s likely organizational politics in play.

    5. OP #5*

      This is a good point. I should have clarified that coworker does have accommodations, and their supervisor is aware of them being unable to perform this duty. It would usually not be too bad because other staff would also be able to pitch in. But right now those other staff are chronically understaffed and I am already stepping in to help them with coverage (which IS part of my job, and which I don’t mind doing).

      But I agree, the accommodation needs to be clear to all of us involved. I think based on what I am reading the best way forward is to make all of it known and I now have some good scripts to get that conversation started.

  3. voyager1*

    LW2: I am going to suggest a 3rd choice. Can the woman wear headphones while listening to music? I feel really uncomfortable with policing someone’s healthcare choices… which this is. I get that her music/talking is annoying but I personally don’t think it is right to say as a society not going to police your healthcare choices unless it is annoying me. Really that is what this is, an annoyance. It isn’t like second hand smoke or something that puts you in harms way.

    I am probably a minority view on this though.

      1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

        I came here to point this out. It can harm your hearing and make for a very unpleasant and stressful work place. I hate being anywhere the music is super loud, especially in a small enclosed space. I would say something stronger like “The music is loud enough to make it very uncomfortable for the people who work here.” And maybe even something about their hearing being affected.

      2. Hannah Banana*

        You’d be surprised how loud you can listen to music for a certain number of hours with no hearing damage. My husband is a sound designer and has decibel readers and I asked him if my music on my ear buds was too loud. We did a test and it was between 70 and 75 decibels, which seems like a very good volume to me, and you can listen to it for more than 8 hours with no hearing loss. Over 85 decibels becomes more worrisome where you should limit it to less than 8 hours and that is actually pretty effing loud.

    1. Xavier89*

      I agree with you, I’d be uncomfortable asking someone to consider hearing aids as well especially knowing already that they don’t like them (which I’m assuming she doesn’t otherwise she would be using them since she already has them)

      I might go with something more like “this is causing a problem, can you think of anything we can do it fix it?”

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes! That is better. I’m going to tweak the answer in the post. (For people who didn’t see it, my original suggestion had this as the last sentence: “Would you consider trying them, since it’s affecting the office?”)

        1. Athena*

          Thank you. As someone who wears hearing aids and identifies as culturally Deaf, I consider it breathtakingly taboo to ask a deaf person to wear hearing aids or an implant if they are choosing not to do so. I would focus on the actual problem here, which is the music and speaking volume. Let the boss be the one to decide how to resolve that, which may or may not include the hearing aids.

          1. Maria Lopez*

            A speech therapist can help one to modulate the voice, but the boss would first have to acknowledge that she talks too loudly.
            Since she already has hearing aids I am going to assume that whoever tested her and prescribed the hearing aids thought she would be helped by them. This is NOT the case with deaf and severe to profoundly hard of hearing people.

            1. Marlene*

              I wear hearing aids. I have profoundly deaf friends who use hearing aids in order to hear ambient noise, such as a car coming or their dog barking. They can’t pick up speech though.

            2. Elemeno P.*

              Some d/Deaf and HoH people can also use hearing aids. Some can’t, and some may choose not to do so, but some can and do.

            3. DJ*

              I am hard of hearing and don’t wear hearing aids. There’ve been a few times where I’ve been speaking too loud, and it’s not hard to change that if someone just tells me I’m being too loud. I don’t know that a speech therapist would actually be necessary, especially if no one has just told the boss that she’s being loud.

            4. Inside Leg*

              I have a severe hearing loss and wear hearing aids. My dad has a profound loss and wears them, too.

          2. Snark*

            How is it going to be possible to resolve that without the hearing aids? I talk like a megaphone without mine. That’s what happens when you don’t have accurate feedback. What other option is there, realistically?

            1. Observer*

              I think that the idea would be to put the problem on the table and then let the boss figure this out – either wear your hearing aids, of do all of your conversing over email / chat, and go to a private room when you need to talk on the phone. Or whatever might work. And cut the music.

              I’d be willing to bet that this is not practical, but it might be the only way to really force the issue.

              1. Snark*

                I mean, fundamentally I agree, this is the boss’ problem to solve – but I personally don’t think requiring all your direct reports to communicate electronically with you is workable as a reasonable accomodation for a disability. Going to private rooms when you need to chat, okay, that falls entirely on Boss. But hearing is one of those unfortunate disabilities that requires the disabled person to accomodate others, not just others accomodate them; “wear hearing aids” is specifically listed as part of my work accomodations.

            2. Vemasi*

              Especially if a person is never wearing their hearing aids, they could go to a speech therapist or do their own training to modulate their voice using feedback other than sound (physical sensation feedback in the throat, and knowledge of how much force to put into speaking, or even just acknowledgement that she shouldn’t be able to hear herself as well as she used to). I have worked with Deaf people before who were only loud speakers when they got excited and forgot to keep their voice quiet (which hearing people do as well, especially me!).

              There isn’t much point in putting in this effort if a person often does wear their hearing aids, as switching between the kinds of feedback will make it even harder. But just as many Deaf people are able to learn to speak aloud, they can learn to speak at a good volume if they have the right tools to learn and the desire to do so. If OP’s boss is resolved not to use hearing aids, she will probably need to come up with several other coping methods as well, as her hearing continues to degenerate and she takes that as the new normal for her. But she needs to hear that it’s a problem first so she can decide what to do.

              But the bigger issue (unless she is talking nonstop throughout the day and having the same effect as constant loud music) is that she needs to hear about the music being a problem before she gives anyone a performance review and cites them for decreased productivity.

              1. Maria Lopez*

                The bigger issue really is that the boss is in denial about her hearing loss and thinks everything is ok. Adults who develop hearing loss over time can be quite stubborn about there being nothing wrong and that everyone else is mumbling.

                1. Snarkastic*

                  Try being a family member who constantly tries to point out how much of life the person with hearing loss is missing. The rest of us deal with shouting, blasting TV’s, etc. It makes them seem befuddled and (I think) is contributing to memory issues. Pride is a hell of a drug.

            3. Name Required*

              She would be the most motivated and positive about wearing her hearing aids if it’s her to decision to use them. Even if it’s a forced conclusion based on limited options, it’s still her conclusion.

          3. MtnLaurel*

            Thank you, Athena, for that perspective. as a non-deaf person it woudlnt’ have occurred to me that the suggestion may be taboo. I’m glad to add that to my list of ways I can be sensitive to all around me. :-)

          4. JSPA*

            This. Besides, depending on the sort of hearing loss, the aids may not do much, or may make background noise more disruptive. It’s very easy to assume that the fix “must work,” and that “working” means, “approximating the experience of having normal hearing,” but that’s like assuming dialysis is “just like” having functional kidneys or that an insulin pump is “just like” not having Type 1 diabetes or that any medical fix is “just like” not having had a problem or difference in the first place.

            Don’t get me wrong: I’m not maligning the tech. We should all be glad that it exists. It can be lifesaving. It can make a huge difference in somebody’s quality of life. But it’s an impolite fiction or a downright lie–not a polite fiction–that using a particular bit of tech = “all good.”

            P.S. neither does this mean treating everyone using various tech as needing solicitousness and help, on the assumption that it’s a bad fix. People get to choose their tech (or not) and they get to ask for accommodation (or not) or for feedback and help in passing (or not).

        2. Marlene*

          Thank you for changing your advice. I posted below about the potential drawbacks and benefits of hearing aids. I have so many deaf or HOH friends and they have very personal reasons for using or not using hearing aids or cochlear implants.

          1. Snark*

            I am hearing impaired and wear hearing aids, and personal or not, if your choice not to wear hearing aids you actually own is resulting in impacts to your coworkers and everyone else around you, then I think that choice is up for questioning.

            1. Works in IT*

              I am also hearing impaired and wear hearing aids, and agree that when your choices start to impact other people, your choices start to become questionable. It’s one thing to take my hearing aids out at the end of the day and relax in my own home where no one else is affected by me talking louder than I do when wearing the hearing aids or bothered by my music. It’s another thing entirely to expect the coworker who shares my office to endure me being that loud when I’m on the phone. And I question the manager’s judgement in choosing not to wear her hearing aids when she is in an office layout that causes her decision to negatively affect her employees. There are many things she could do. She could try to get them moved into an area that would allow her to have her own office. She could wear headphones (though that wouldn’t stop the loud talking), she could carry out more conversations over email, or Skype. She is choosing to do none of those things.

              1. Snark*

                Exactly! I have enormous sympathy for folks who’ve done all they can on their end, or for whom assistive technology is incompatible with their particular circumstances, and of course if there are still accomodations that the person needs, they’re entitled to them. But if you have them and refuse to use them? You’re not doing all you can in good faith, and expecting people to accomodate not only your organic limitations but your personal fear of looking old (or whatever) is not reasonable.

                1. Works in IT*

                  That tilts a little bit towards “you can’t force someone to use an assistive device if they don’t want to.” The issue isn’t, so much, that she has the hearing aids and isn’t wearing them. The issue is that she’s refusing to do anything about the fact that, without hearing aids, she is disrupting her coworkers and/or causing them pain. Occasionally I forget my hearing aids. I’m careful to pitch my voice VERY low, and to look at peoples’ lips to try to get a sense of what they’re saying. Same scenario, person who is hearing impaired, not wearing hearing aids, but she refuses to stop being disruptive to her coworkers, and I (and other people) are much more aware of the impact we have on others. The problem here is the lack of empathy for other human beings, not the hearing impairment.

            2. Arya Snark*

              I worked with someone (middle mgr) who was losing hearing and it affected her and her whole team. She wasn’t a loud talker though – quite the opposite, actually. The issue was that she wasn’t hearing what people were saying, getting things wrong, and asking about things that were discussed because she didn’t hear it the first time. She was a manager and upper management had to ask her to do something as it was affecting so many other people above and below her. She ended up with hearing aids and it was so much better for everyone after that.

            3. JSPA*

              It’s not the lack of aids that directly causes the impact, though. It’s the turning the volume up and the speaking loudly. Those are choices that can be addressed separately.

              Anyone who’s ever had a stuffy head from a cold has had a moment of realizing, “hunh, guess I’m yelling, I either have to speak so softly that I can’t hear it, or put my hand over my mouth to muffle myself.” We don’t get hearing aids for 5 or 10 days.

              Someone can choose to not listen to radio / TV, can use the “accessibility” setting on the phone (louder than normal high, but lower than speakerphone), can request or order additional soundproofing for their office, close the office door, get headphones, improve their lip reading and take all calls on skype (with headphones) etc etc etc. I’m pretty sure that if “loud” happens for 5 or 10 minutes twice a day, people can be cool about it; it’s the endless barrage of noise that’s overwhelming.

        3. To Lurk, perchance to Post*

          I’m bilaterally deaf. I have had a hearing aid, a Baha, and have graduated to a cochlear implant. And I work in a call center. Irony alert!

          You cannot force her to wear hearing aids. (Goodness no!) But I be appropriate accommodations can be found to reduce the distractions she’s causing to others.

          I have a hard time modulating the volume of my voice. I have told people to give me a “keep it down” gesture when I talk to loud. Most importantly, I have an accommodation for a private office. I can talk loud, listen to loud music (if I wanted), and cause little to no disruption to anyone else.

          Facing hearing loss is scary and exhausting. I’ve always had some kind of hearing loss on the left, but lost my hearing on the right in my early 30s. It’s so hard to face. A little kindness goes a long way. I know you’re frustrated, but she didn’t choose to have this happen to her.

          Offer solutions. Please don’t demand she wear hearing aids!

          1. Snark*

            I mean, the best solution is that she wear the hearing aids. It’s not actually on everyone else to accomodate our hearing loss if we don’t make the good-faith effort to take advantage of all the accomodations and assistive devices available to us.

            1. JSPA*

              Hearing loss is such a catch-all term for so many structurally and perceptually different problems. If you have the, uh….”luck” doesn’t seem like the right word, but within the context of hearing loss, let’s call it luck…to have a form of loss that’s really improved by hearing aids, it may seem that everyone should do that thing, that works for you. But it’s really so variable. And it doesn’t sound like just about any of the many possible accommodations have been tried, yet.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I like this approach, too, because it handles the tricky issues voyager1 has flagged. I would feel uncomfortable recommending someone choose a specific medical treatment / intervention / device based on my perception of their health issue (which could be totally off).

      3. Maria Lopez*

        You know, as a retired otolaryngologist and also someone who grew up with a hard of hearing father in denial, it is much more likely that the boss thinks the hearing aids make her look or feel old.
        I had a big poster in the audiologist’s office and exam room that said, “Your hearing loss is more obvious than your hearing aids.” Perhaps one of the senior managers who knows her well could say this, gently of course.

        1. Zombeyonce*

          I’d like to introduce you to my grandmother who really needs to read your poster. She claims she can hear just fine even though every third word she says is a loud “What?”

        2. Engineer Girl*

          This is like my sister in childhood. She refused to wear her glasses because she said they made her look dorky. I told her that tripping over things and slamming into walls made her look even more stupid.
          No one is fooling anybody.

        3. Temp anon*

          I have severe hearing loss and have worn hearing aids for 45 years.

          There is a stigma against visible disabilities, and when adults start to need hearing aids or glasses etc it also gets combined with vanity and fears about aging, hence more denial.

          There is also a very real possibility that the boss has the wrong hearing aids, they may fit poorly, blast feedback, etc or may just not boost the right frequencies. I have been asked to help several people in this situation, mostly kids, and when I dig and ask questions the reasons they don’t wear them is split between stigma (“they all mock me at recess”) and discomfort—the mold doesn’t fit, or “it never stops whistling!”

          Hearing is complex, People with hearing problems should meet with an audiologist (not a hearing aid salesperson) to get the right solution for them. Even the right solution is going to take some adjustment but it should not be painful.

          1. londonedit*

            Temp anon – you’re so right. My dad has pretty severe hearing loss in one ear, and uses a hearing aid in the other ear, but he still can’t hear well. We keep trying to get him to go back to the audiologist, because surely there are better solutions for him, but his response is always ‘No, I’ve already spent a fortune on this hearing aid, I’m not wasting more money’. He was told about a receiver thing that he could wear on his deaf side to transmit sound from that side into his hearing aid, but refuses to go back and ask about that because it was another few hundred pounds. It’s very frustrating, but at the end of the day it’s his choice and we can only keep gently telling him that his hearing is very important and worth spending money on. Maybe one day the message will get through!

            1. A Hard of Hearing Anon*

              You might be able to point out that going back to the audiologist to see if she can adjust the settings is possible – that shouldn’t cost him anything more than a visit cost. Hearing aids can be set at different base volumes – different than just the regular volume controls. Also if he keeps track of what situations he has the most trouble hearing in he might be able to test out different settings – for example mine has a “nosy room” setting where it cuts out most background noise by reducing the input distance.

              One thing people don’t often realize is that they will often need to go back to the audiologist to have their hearing aids adjusted. Because being in a quite room just talking to the audiologist is vastly different than regular life situations. It’s also a good idea to check your own assumptions – hearing aids don’t actually replicate “normal” hearing – they come close but their not perfect. Your dad is still going to have trouble hearing from a distance or in a crowded space with a lot of background noise. Also turning up the volume doesn’t always work because it means you hear everything louder. Not just someone talking but all the background noise that people without hearing loss can tune out. We actually can’t do that – our brains never learned that trick.

              1. Jamie*

                One of my sons has severe CAPD (Central Auditory Processing Disorder) and even though his hearing is fine, mechanically, he also can’t screen for background noise. When he was small I explained to all of his teachers that his audiologist said he was “deaf for content” in acoustically bad/chaotic situations.

                Definitely one of those brain tricks that people with typical hearing take for granted.

                1. blackcat*

                  I struggle with this–no real diagnosis, but the audiologist I saw to have my hearing tested did say that some of my struggles are related to the fact that my hearing is actually really exceptional. I can hear tons of stuff other people can’t! I can hear dog whistles! But this means there’s even more for me to filter out than the average person, so it’s a struggle.

                2. Amelia Pond*

                  The thread ran out, so this is @blackcat: I’ve never met another person that can also hear dog whistles before! They’re so painful. When I was 1, my adult brother thought I was lying about being able to hear it, up until his random “tests” convinced him. (Yes, he was abusive, but my mom and I cut him completely out of our lives when I was 15.) He’s not the only one to think I was lying, so I stopped mentioning it.

                  The sensitive hearing is a pain in the ass for so many reasons, but especially bad because I’m a really light sleeper, I can’t easily get back to sleep… and have only been able to live in apartments… and can only sleep during the day.

                3. nonegiven*

                  @Amelia Pond*

                  DH met a guy that heard dog whistles. The city meter readers had those to try to keep dogs away on their route. The guys were messing around with them after work, once, when an EMT came by. Someone blew on a whistle and the EMT went to his knees.

              2. Dancing Otter*

                Is the “nosy room” setting to help you eavesdrop?
                Sorry, I know it was probably a typo, but my mother would have been all over that setting!

          2. cncx*

            +1 on the hearing aids not being properly tweaked to the boss’ situation. i have a friend with light hearing loss, and her first few tries at hearing aids involved the wrong frequencies, feedback, bad fit…she stopped for over a decade. Once her hearing loss got too bad she went back and found an audiologist willing to work with her and she has a perfect pair now after months of tweaks.

            THat doesn’t mean that even with the perfect pair the boss should be required to wear them but it’s something to think about as context

          3. Harper the Other One*

            My mom resisted hearing aids for years, not so much because of stigma but because she had so many stories from friends/relatives about fit problems And extraneous noise. When she finally saw a proper audiologist, she got a pair that she LOVES. They’re directional so they don’t just magnify all sounds, and they have different settings for conversation, watching TV, etc. Plus they have a remote for volume so she jokes that when she’s tired of listening to people she can just “turn her ears down.”

          4. Washi*

            Right, hearing aids are not a magical solution. I used to work with elderly people and we had a program to give them free hearing aids. It was awesome, but some of the difficulties we ran into were:

            1. According to the audiologist, it takes your brain at least a few weeks to adjust to the new level of sounds you’ll hear through the hearing aid.
            2. Your brain adjusts best if you wear the hearing aids all the time, even when not around other people. However, many people have a hard time getting used to them, and don’t do that, prolonging the adjustment process.
            3. A lot of people have unrealistic expectations of hearing aids, that they will restore your hearing to its prior state. This is unfortunately not the case, and many people will still need to be facing the person talking to them, not surrounded by a lot of ambient noise, and will often find big groups of people talking all at once a struggle.
            4. Most clients needed to come back for at least 1 readjustment, and sometimes 2-3 to get the volume and various settings right. Not everyone takes the time to do that or realizes it may be necessary.
            5. Hearing aids with an ear mold need to be fitted very snugly in the ear. A lot of our clients had trouble putting this kind of hearing aid in correctly because you can’t really see what you’re doing.

            Just wanted to point all this out, since I get the frustration of ugggh why won’t she just wear her hearing aids? But it’s more complex than that, and it is certainly possible that the pair she has aren’t helping her very much or in the way she was hoping.

            1. Librarian1*

              Yesss. I got a hearing aid a few years ago and almost all of these (except 5 because I didn’t get custom molds) were issues. It was so difficult to get used to hearing all the quiet ambient noises I hadn’t heard for years again. Also, they can be uncomfortable at first. I recently switched to a different style of aid and it actually hurt my ear for a few days until I got used to them.

            2. DJ*

              I think a lot of people think hearing aids are like glasses or contacts where you put them in and now you have 20/20 vision, but the reality is that hearing is so much more complicated and the hearing aids do need to be adjusted. And they will not make it sound like it did when you have perfect hearing because all the sound is coming through a microphone. Plus the cost means a lot of people (especially those with age-related hearing loss) have cheaper hearing aids that are not nearly as good as the more expensive ones. And insurance does not cover any of the cost, pretty much ever. Not to mention that it can be hard sometimes to get an audiologist who is actually willing to listen to you and not just assume that you’re not trying to make the hearing aid work (I know from experience).

              1. Librarian1*

                @DJ- Yeah, that was the most frustrating thing about getting a hearing aid. It doesn’t fix my hearing the way glasses fix my eyesight.

              2. Res Admin*

                Agreed! After many years of not hearing well, my husband was prescribed hearing aids. With the help of an excellent audiologist, he found a pair that fits well. He hates them. The sound is NOT the same as real hearing–every sound is magnified–and he was used to hearing very little. Now that he also needs reading glasses, the glasses interfere with them as well. Supposedly he wears them to meetings at work…I haven’t seen him wear them in years. And those puppies wear Very Expensive.

                On the other hand, he makes it very clear to the people around him that he is hearing impaired and that they need to make sure that he knows that they are present and talking to him and he doesn’t make a lot of noise at work (he has had the hearing loss so long that he naturally modulates his voice into a “normal” range). The last thing he would want to do is negatively impact those he works with.

                1. Snark*

                  I wear glasses with hearing aids. And yeah, the hearing experience is artificial and you can tell stuff is being modulated and selectively amplified! That’s on purpose, so you can actually hear those things.

            3. Observer*

              All of this is true. But not really relevant. As long as Boss is in denial, nothing is going to change. Boss needs to understand and acknowledge that she does NOT “hear just fine” and it’s causing a real issue.

              I don’t think anyone really cares WHAT her solutions is, as long as it’s not “I’ll keep on pretending and making so much noise that everyone else is having problems.”

            4. Librarianne*

              Yes, I’ve seen all of this with my grandmother, who got permanent measles-induced hearing loss when she was a child. She doesn’t go to movie theaters, concerts, etc. because her hearing aids make the ambient noises sound muddled. Whenever she gets an updated hearing aid model, she has to go to the audiologist a few times before the settings are quite right. When she bought her most recent set, she was convinced that her refrigerator was broken–but this was the first time she could actually hear it running!

          5. TooTiredToThink*

            Kind of a random, but on topic question – I *hate* wearing headphones and avoid it as much as possible because I get ear infections on a regular basis if I have to wear them a lot. I’m actually concerned that if I lose my hearing (and it actually was a bit of a concern for awhile there because I found myself saying “what?” a lot but then later realized it really was the person talking and not my ears) that I would end up dealing with constant ear infections. Is that a possibility with some people who don’t like wearing them, as well?

            1. Observer*

              There are different kinds of hearing aids, and not all of them are in ear. Also, the materials are different, so that might also make a difference.

              1. voyager1*

                I was suggesting Aftershocks since they are a headphone alternative, not a hearing aid alternative. Runners and cyclists use them so they can listen to music while working out but still hear traffic. They don’t go in your ears. Sorry I should have clarified that.

          6. Booksnbooks*

            I came here to say this about the feedback — it’s possible her hear aids are impacting her ability to talk on the phone because of the feedback, so her choice is to just not wear them. Getting a system that integrates with the phone so that the audio is straight in her ear via the hearing aids might help if that is indeed the case.

            1. Observer*

              There is a lot of excuse making for the boss – based on what the OP writes this is unlikely to be the issue.

              But, if it is, the solution is either something like you suggest or a hearing aid compatible hand set. That is something that even an employer who is not legally bound by the ADA should provide without blinking.

          7. JSPA*

            I keep waiting for one of the billionaire tech people to need a) bifocals and b) hearing aids.

            Firstly, because the technology will suddenly be EXCELLENT. Secondly, because they’ll be styled like a Tesla, and even people with no hearing or vision problems will be wanting one.

        4. MusicWithRocksInIt*

          Oooooooooooooooo – anime hearts just appeared in my eyes. I am going to use that! My mom is driving us all nuts because she won’t see anyone about her hearing loss, but it is getting so much harder to talk to her. Also more reluctant to leave her with the baby because I am worried she won’t hear him cry.

          1. Wing-N-Wing*

            Oh, the newer ones have so many magic features – they can Bluetooth from a TV or music player or phone directly into your ears (no headphones, no disturbing others). And they are TINY, almost invisible, so that addresses the vanity component as well. Lots of choices and options out there!

            1. LizB*

              I worked with a woman who mentioned to me after a few months of working closely together – like, weekly one-on-one meetings closely – that she was HOH and wore hearing aids. I had never noticed, because they were seriously tiny, matched her skin tone, the way she wore her hair often partially covered them… and also I just, don’t spend my time looking closely at people’s ears when I’m working with them? I would never have known if she hadn’t said something. Modern hearing aids have a very different look than the ones I saw people wearing 20-some years ago.

              1. Temp anon*

                Digital hearing aids have lots of great features such as algorithms to screen out ambient noise and focus on speech, and they are getting better. The Bluetooth connection to a cell phone or TV is AWESOME. I can listen to the TV at my own volume and not have it blaring through the house, my partner can listen via the TV at his own volume. Sometimes he asks ME “what did he say?” AHAHAHA! OMG a glorious question for a hearing-impaired person to be asked.

                I recommend using closed captions with TV also, they may seem intrusive at first but quickly become second nature, try them for a week and then turn them off and see what happens to your comprehension.

                1. Amethyst*

                  Captions are AWESOME. I have bilateral severe hearing loss, wear hearing aids, & have Deaf family members who all sign. I consider myself HOH, not d/Deaf. I grew up on CC at home. (Why school movies don’t automatically provide CC is beyond me, & that’s a topic for another time.) I’ve actually gotten several of my closest friends (all hearing) to use them on their own, & they love it, especially when the captions are slightly faster than the frame & the punchline comes in .1 second faster, LOL. It’s also helped with their children’s reading/spelling skills. One child was just slightly behind their grade level in the subject & now they’re ahead. :)

              2. Temp anon*

                Oh, and yes the devices are smaller and more powerful than years ago, and available in lots of colors. Interestingly, many kids are not going the camouflage route and are choosing neon colors. Very different mindset than when I was a kid, which sounds like a good thing.

            2. So long and thanks for all the fish*

              Yes- the ones my grandfather had you’d only notice if you were looking for them. They can be great!

          2. Working with professionals*

            I bought a baby monitor that would light up and vibrate as well as have sound for my friends when they had their baby. I worked great.

        5. Asenath*

          My late grandfather switched between “I don’t need a hearing aid because I don’t have trouble hearing. People mumble so much these days” (which become more and more and more obviously untrue as time went on) to “Hearing aids are expensive and don’t work” (He had tried some cheap ones that, surprise, didn’t work). I suspect his resistance was partly not wanting to admit the problems of aging and partly not wanting to be financially dependent – although his adult children were more than happy and able to contribute towards the cost. But every time the topic was brought up, it was “people mumble” and “Aids are a waste of money because they don’t work”. So I have no solution.

          1. Librarian1*

            lol, my dad is like this. Although in his case, I think it’s a combo of him having undiagnosed hearing loss and also some people mumbling.

            I think the aging thing is part of it with him too, but he also feels like he can’t take time off of work to see a doctor, so it’s more than just that.

        6. stitchinthyme*

          I was coming here to say essentially this. I do agree with those who’ve said that you can’t force her to wear hearing aids and a better approach is to address the actual problem (her talking and music are too loud) rather than her own hearing issues. However, as someone who experienced her first hearing loss at age 30 (at 48, I now have a cochlear implant in one ear and just ordered a new hearing aid for the other), I always get really annoyed about the old-age stigma hearing loss has. It can truly happen to anyone at any age, and most adults wouldn’t hesitate to get glasses (or at least contacts) if their vision was bad, so why all the reluctance over hearing aids? (Note: I’m not talking about culturally Deaf people; I’m talking about late-deafened adults who have never been part of Deaf culture and need to interact with the hearing world.)

          Besides, even if you are self-conscious about them, nowadays they make hearing aids so small that unless you’re bald, they will probably not be very noticeable at all — my mother only consented to get hers when she realized that no one could see them.

        7. Librarian1*

          I got diagnosed with moderate hearing loss when I was 29 and I didn’t want to get a hearing aid right away because it made me feel like I was getting older and my body was falling apart. Although after spending a year having to ask people to repeat what they were saying, I warmed up to the idea and ended up getting one. It’s been so helpful. But the psychological barriers are real.

        8. Snark*

          As someone who has worn hearing aids since age 8, I cannot express how hard this hang-up makes me roll my eyes. Some have the luxury of wearing hearing aids only when we get old, when our peers expect it instead of viciously bullying us.

          My hearing aids are visible mostly as a translucent wire less than a millimeter thick that runs around the front curve of my ear. At least they’re not the giant, finger-sized behind-the-ear aids I had to wear in elementary school.

          1. schnauzerfan*

            True. I’ve been wearing aids since I started school at 4. Some have been miserably uncomfortable. Some made the wind so loud I couldn’t hear a thing outside. Some were so sensitive I could hear a whispered conversation (at the right pitch) in the next room, but I couldn’t understand the person across the table. The ones I have now connect to my cel and I can actually use the phone, not that I enjoy it, but I can do it. I wear them because they do help most of the time, but l understand why others don’t . Unlike others who hide their aids, I went with the HOT pink for my new aids… They make me smile when I see them, and if I’m spending $5000 on something I want it to be pretty!

            Assuming I had a relationship that allowed it, I’d tell the boss that hearing aid technology has come a long ways and encourage her to check with her audiologist to see what was new. Lots of better aids and other technologies that aren’t traditional “old people” aids. I might suggest some of the wearable speakers / headsets to allow her to enjoy her music at a volume that’s workable for her, without blasting everyone else out of the office. And I mention that her voice gets really loud sometimes. “Can we work out a signal for when you come across as shouting?”

      4. Amelia Pond*

        I just want to add, that it may also not be a general dislike or annoyance of the hearing aids, either, but could be physically painful. I don’t use hearing aids but I can’t use things like earplugs or earbud headphones because of how much they hurt.

        And I must rant about this, which I don’t often get a chance to do I tried to find earsbuds for a solid decade before giving up, after finding some super small and ones made for kids. I’m still really unhappy that earbuds basically pushed the type I prefer off the market. They type I prefer don’t really isolate sound very well- I have ridiculously sensitive hearing, too- and the sound bleeds out more than I’m comfortable with. I`d love an over the ears set but they cannot rest on my ears. I don’t know if I have freakishly large ears or what (all parts of my ears are sensitive, though not quite as much on the inside), but I’ve tried on dozens and only found one pair that fit… and it was a Bose set that was around $300, which I refuse to pay. Unless I suddenly win the lottery or inherit money from a distant relative I’ve never heard of. /rant over, and thanks for reading if you made it this far!)

    2. Roverandom*

      Well it’s a work distraction, and at work we want to minimize those so people can do their jobs right? She’s the boss and presumably would want people to work effectively and not actively hinder people from doing their jobs well.

      It’s not “society policing someone’s healthcare choices” to say “you’re getting in the way of us working, can you figure out a way to stop that?” It’s like if someone refuses to wear glasses so they just sit in front of the screen so no one else can see. Nobody is saying she has to use them at home or on her commute, just asking her to help everyone work harmoniously.

      And I don’t see why we need to compare this to smoking. Someone smelling like smoke is just a distraction in most cases. But I’ve seen that many readers here think this is the Worst Thing someone could do that puts them unequivocally in the wrong, so it’s derailing and unhelpful here to say “this isn’t as bad as something clearly awful like smoking.”

      1. Roverandom*

        Revising my comment based on what Deaf/hard of hearing people have said, I think it’s a good point to avoid suggesting hearing aids if that is a triggering thing for people experiencing hearing loss.

        But I still think it’s OK to bring up “can you figure something out?” in the sense of finding an accommodation so she can hear everyone and you can all hear yourselves think. We have a deaf/hard of hearing person in my office and we take written notes for him, let him sit closest to the speaker, don’t expect him to answer the phone, etc.

        1. Helena*

          As a person with hearing loss, I wouldn’t quite say it is triggering. More annoyingly unhelpful along the lines of “have you tried turning it off and on again?” Or suggesting a fat person should “move more and eat less”, like that might not have occurred to them before.

          If there was a magic fix that improved my hearing, I’d be doing it already. Either the hearing aids aren’t working, or there’s some other problem preventing her from using them.

          Nobody enjoys not being able to hear things properly, and people with no medical background or knowledge of my specific hearing problems popping up to say “have you considered this very obvious solution?” is pretty patronising.

          1. Snark*

            “Either the hearing aids aren’t working, or there’s some other problem preventing her from using them.”

            Or she refuses to use them because of fairly ridiculous assumptions rooted in internalized ageism and ableism. If she has hearing aids, and just doesn’t wear them, it’s my guess that she’s not wearing them because of personal hang-ups or because they weren’t properly adjusted, and those are both hurdles that need to be moved past.

            1. J.*

              Or she refuses to use them because of fairly ridiculous assumptions rooted in internalized ageism and ableism.

              Right. You might even say it’s some other type of problem preventing her from using them, then.

              1. Observer*

                True. But no one has any sort of obligation to accommodate people’s ridiculous and *ist ideas.

                * ageist, ableist, etc.

          2. Observer*

            In this case, we know that this is not the case though – the boss simply refuses to acknowledge that she has a problem.

            Sure, no one enjoys not hearing. But when you look at the number of people who won’t even TRY hearing aids, won’t even talk to an audiologist, it’s quite clear that plenty of people are NOT taking appropriate steps to mitigate the problem for one reason or another.

          3. nonegiven*

            >“have you tried turning it off and on again?”

            Unhelpful? I’ve found turning things off and on again helps 80% of my technical problems.

    3. Anon for this*

      I work with Deaf and hard of hearing people and I agree. I think it’s fine to say “This is a problem, what can we do to work together to fix it?” But hearing aids can evoke a lot of mixed emotions for people with hearing loss/deafness and I’d be hesitant to tell anyone that they need to use them.

      Hell, she might just need an adjustment period of you/someone in the office actually telling her when she’s too loud so that she can learn what “too loud” actually is. Maybe she hasn’t noticed her hearing is getting worse and having this conversation could get her to her doctor to find a solution (and possibly investigate whether there’s something more serious behind her hearing loss).

      1. Temp anon*

        A portion of the deaf community views deafness as a culture or community and is quite militant about not wanting deafness to be “cured” , which does not exist for say, the blind.

        But someone in denial about their hearing loss, as this boss is, is not part of that community.

        I find it odd that mention of hearing aids is considered taboo because it’s “triggering”. Yes, I suppose—triggering to get hearing aids?

        IMO it’s not out of bounds to say “you should get your hearing checked” or “you need hearing aids, I’m shouting at you and the TV volume is ungodly loud and you’re still asking m to repeat the dialogue constantly “ to a family member or friend. Granted, it’s much trickier with a boss.

        1. Marlene*

          It’s not that it’s triggering. It’s that using them is a personal medical choice that can be adversely affected by poorly fitted aids. (Fitted as in adjusted by an audiologist.)

          Imagine that you’re a first-time user of eyeglasses. You get a new pair with a 90-day return policy. You’re new to those glasses so you don’t recognize that they’re not the perfect fit for you. You don’t realize you can and should exchange them.

          The 90 days pass, and you can no longer return your glasses. Wearing them is worse than not wearing them. A new pair will cost you 5 THOUSAND dollars.

          What will you do?

          1. Helena*

            They also don’t work for many kinds of hearing loss, but I’ve had people suggest them to me like it might never have occurred to me.

            I’ve had my hearing loss since a childhood accident, had multiple surgeries and ongoing ENT care. I am not deaf through sheer intransigence, neither am I being deaf “at” people.

            The Deaf community is slightly different – if you speak sign language and live in a community of other ASL/BSL speakers, you pretty much aren’t “disabled”, in the same way that an immigrant living in an expat community isn’t “disabled” if they don’t speak the majority language. Impeded when they leave that community, yes. Not physically disabled.

            Forcing somebody to have serious neurological surgery (implants) to overcome what is essentially a language barrier, especially when the results are not remotely akin to normal hearing, is something deaf, Deaf and HOH people should push back on.

            1. Marlene*

              Absolutely agree with all of this.

              I am hard of hearing and fluent in ASL, and with my amazing hearing aids, I still function better in an ASL environment than an English environment.

            2. Snark*

              This applies to the significantly hearing impaired and d/Deaf. In the context of the question, where the person is obviously not Deaf, deaf, or profoundly hearing impaired, I don’t think these kinds of considerations pertain.

              For people who are moderately to severely hearing impaired but refuse to wear hearing aids, I think it’s feasible for their family, friends, and employers to expect them to take advantage of whatever opportunties for assistive technology exist.

          2. DJ*

            Ugh, don’t even get me started on the cost of hearing aids and the fact that there’s basically no insurance (in the US at least). My employers have always had vision/dental insurance to go along with standard health insurance, but of course there’s never anything for hearing. I get so annoyed about it because they are SO EXPENSIVE. Plus every time I go to the ENT they bring it up, and as much as I’d like to try a hearing aid again, I can’t see myself having the money for it any time soon.

            1. Temp anon*

              This is a scandal, I have had jobs with very good insurance (and some with mediocre and bad) and they almost all specifically excluded hearing aids from coverage. The best policies offered something like $400 towards ONE every 4 years but only for initial onset, I.e. If I just lost my hearing for the first time.

              They are hella expensive but consider what they do—they are not just microphones and amps but also complex frequency equalizers, all operating in miniature on or in your ear, with all the jostling and moisture that entails. Pretty amazing.

            2. Amethyst*

              OMG, SAME. It drives me effin’ batty. They’re correctional devices just like glasses are, just more expensive. Insurance will cover glasses (& some can get pretty pricey), but not cover the same for hearing aids? It makes no damn sense.

              I’m lucky that my job has covered them for the last couple years now, & they waive our deductible when we need to have ours replaced. The first year I worked for this company, we didn’t have this benefit. I approached our representative asking if they’d consider it for following years, & I’ve been just tickled pink since. Lol.

              Anyway… If you’re in the US, have you considered reaching out to your local BRS/VRS* branch? They usually have funds set aside for people who need hearing aids but can’t afford them. They’ll either cover the entire cost or most of it, & you pay what you can pay. It’s worth looking into.

              *Bureau of Rehab Services or Vocational Rehab Services, depending on your state.

          3. Grapey*

            Not lie to my family/coworkers that “I can see you just fine” and expect them to accommodate me, that’s for sure.

            I’d pay the 5k and be sure not to go over my 90 day limit again.

            1. Snark*

              And even if you’re over the (not universal!) 90 day limit, no audiologist I’ve ever had is unwilling to retest and recalibrate. People’s hearing changes more frequently than they buy new aids. If it’s not working for you, go to the damn audiologist and explain what’s wrong. Fixing it is literally their job.

              1. Maria Lopez*

                My BIL has hearing loss and said the hearing aids didn’t work and was driving my sister crazy because he is retired and always home, and she works from home. TV turned way up, etc.
                He went on a trip for a fiftieth college reunion and came home ready to go to the audiologist for real this time. Turns out his friends were not polite OR accommodating about his self-imposed problems.

                1. nutella fitzgerald*

                  This is a really good point. If my boss, my mom, and a friend all have the same annoying habit, I’m going to respond to it three different ways. I might mention it to the friend once or twice and start tapering off the relationship if it doesn’t improve. I’m going to nag my mother endlessly and buy her dumb gadgets that allege to fix the problem. And I will just find a way to deal with it when it’s my boss.

          4. Lynn Whitehat*

            At one point in my life, I actually was in a position where I needed glasses and couldn’t afford them. Not because I diddled around for 3 months like in your hypothetical. Just flat broke. I was honest with myself and other people that I had a problem and it was my problem. The fact that the solution was out of my price range didn’t make it not a problem. I didn’t sink deep into denial and insist that I’m fine, the WORLD is fuzzy. I also didn’t drive or make people read things for me or otherwise make it everyone else’s problem. And that is with the solution actually being out of reach, I wasn’t just too vain or something to use it.

          5. Temp anon*

            Not to pick nits on language, but I was responding to Roverandom above who used the word “triggering”.

            1. Roverandom*

              Sorry, I wasn’t sure what word was best to use. “Annoying because this one word reminds you of a frequent problem you have and makes you think ‘here we go again'”?

        2. Dust Bunny*

          The thing is, even if she still chooses not to address her hearing loss, she needs to turn down the music and modulate her voice, and she can learn to do that regardless of her personal medical decisions. She just won’t be able to hear the music, but then most choices come with a cost somewhere else, don’t they? I don’t get to hear my music as well as I’d like to because I share an office with two other people and don’t want to distract them.

          But it stopped being solely her decision when she started blasting music and sorta-yelling at people.

    4. Name of Requirement*

      Good point. Being yelled at and having to yell makes for an awful environment though, so I wouldn’t minimize that aspect presenting the issue.

    5. anon*

      I’ve commented before on these types of threads because I’m moderate-severe hard of hearing.

      No. Please don’t directly ask her to wear hearing aids! This is incredibly rude and could make her feel awful. People don’t wear them for an array of reasons, some seem valid (e.g. they amplify all other noises and make things worse, or I get repeated infections wearing them) some which don’t seem valid but are nevertheless a choice someone gets to make about their body (e.g. they make me feel old and disabled).

      I would address how she adapts to her hearing loss and how it affects you. “This music is too loud, it’s distracting” is absolutely fine to say and you have every right to say it. Or, “May I ask you to lower your voice a little, it’s uncomfortably loud right now” is fine too.

      Or, if this is an ‘open problem’ that she has hearing loss, try and think of ways of modifying your communication with her: Using instant messaging, emails. Make sure you are facing her so she can see your lips (she may be supplementing lip reading more than you’d think), try and enunciate.

      Hearing loss is a complicated problem and although frustrating for you, for her it’s likely to be a frightening thing if she’s not really functioning well.

      1. Annie*

        Hearing aids have been a life changer for me. My sister, who has worse hearing than I do, has no interest in them. Thinks they’ll make her look old. My audiologist said to tell her that the constant “huh?” and “what?” and generally missing out on conversations is what makes her look old…I say this with a chuckle because I do believe it’s ultimately her choice not to get them.

        1. Maria Lopez*

          I have an audiologist friend who flies down to small villages in Mexico with a medical team, and a family brought in abuelilta because she didn’t talk or communicate for some time. Nobody knew what was wrong with her, but dementia or previous stroke were the suspected culprits.
          She had the wax cleaned out of her ears, got fitted for hearing aids AND glasses and was back to her normal self again.
          I saw people whose family suspected early dementia and it was hearing loss. They either didn’t answer when called or responded incorrectly to questions asked in conversations, but they thought they were fine.
          “I just got new hearing aids.”
          “What kind?”
          “12:30.”

          1. Annie*

            My kids’ favorite grandma anecdote—

            Riding in the car…

            “When will we get there?”
            “Yes I have my shorts on!”

    6. Observer*

      This is not policing someone’s health care choices. It’s asking someone to be considerate of the people around them.

      It’s not just the music, either. It’s the fact that conversations are being shouted as well – and that’s even worse than the music. Headphones won’t help there.

      I have no doubt that it the boss were finding another way to mitigate the problem, the OP would not be insisting on her wearing hearing aids.

    7. Llellayena*

      I’m starting to have issues like this with my parents. They’ll set the tv at a volume they can understand the speech and I need to ask them to turn it down slightly because the volume is loud enough to hurt my ears (and oh how I wish TV stations/shows would balance the volume from speech to music or commercials better!). I have a bit more leeway to tell them “You should get your hearing checked” though. It’s more complicated with a coworker or boss, but focusing on “please turn the volume down, my ears are hurting” or “can you speak quieter, I can’t hear the person on the phone” should get at least temporary results and might eventually get the point across.

    8. Hannah Banana*

      I agree with you. I don’t think it’s anyone’s business if she uses the hearing aids. The issue is she speaks too loud and listens to music too loud. Focus on that instead of the hearing aids.

    9. Koala dreams*

      Yes, I’m not fond of the idea of telling the boss to wear hearing aids. Better to focus on the result you want, that is, a calm environment where people can do their work. If the boss choose to wear hearing aids, get earphones that contains the sound or get a light that measures volume and lights up yellow when volume is too loud is up to the boss. Focus on the negative effect on work productivity, not your boss’ disability.

    10. BelleMorte*

      As someone who is deaf, so much of this advice is so wildly inappropriate and would be borderline (if not completely) in violation of the ADA.

      This is someone’s disability you are talking about. People think they can police whether people use their hearing aids or not, whereas they would never dream of telling someone semi-mobile in a wheelchair to just use crutches because it’s less inconvenient for us.

      Yes, you can point out that the music is playing extremely loudly, yes you can say you are speaking very loudly (if you want to be a jerk), but asking/telling/guilting her to wear a disability aid or otherwise stop inconveniencing you because she has a disability? No, No, Nopeity Nope.

      Her health choices are none of your business, full stop. Say ‘Hey, the music is really loud, I can hear it from XYZ clearly, can we turn it down as it’s distracting” but everything else. No. Just No.

      I’ve had so many well-meaning people tell me to go to speech therapy, get hearing aids, speak quieter, stop embarrassing them with my weirdly accented voice, stop making (normal human) noise. All of this is NOT ok and made me think of them a lot less.

  4. Heidi*

    I was recently invited to do a Strengths assessment. The five words are kind of like the Myers Briggs personality categories. Each one is supposed to give you insight into your best work style and knowing other people’s strengths is supposed to help you know how to work with them. You’re supposed to meet with a trained coach who helps you understand how to capitalize on your innate strengths identified by the survey questions. It’s not free, so perhaps the company put this email signature suggestion out there to drum up business.

    1. Amber T*

      That was my thought. I did StrengthFinders years ago and I actually found it helpful and useful for myself – both on how I work and how others work. But yeah, putting it your email is free advertising for them basically.

      1. LW#1*

        The only reason I can think of for them to suggest putting your results in your signature is advertising.

    2. Sara without an H*

      My campus did StrengthsFinder a couple of years ago, and a few people have added their strengths to their signatures. There’s been no pressure to do this and, since I’m skeptical to the point of cynicism about “personality assessments,” I haven’t bothered.

      OP#1, if your campus uses Outlook for email, it’s possible to create and save multiple signatures. I discovered this one year when I was asked to chair a small professional organization, so I created one signature for my role as chair, and another for regular work correspondence. It should be no problem to create and save one signature with Strengths for use on internal email, and another professional signature for use in mail that’s going off campus.

      Or you could just ignore the whole thing. You would, however, be doing your students a service by warning them that their future employers may not know — or care — about StrengthsFinders, MBTI, or any other personality “assessment.”

    3. Rainy*

      I work with CliftonStrengths regularly. I myself like it, it works really well for what I use it for with my clients, but it’s not the be-all and end-all of self-exploration. It’s just another tool, albeit one that often works really well if you understand what it’s for.

      I will say that as is often the case with assessments, it really requires the interpretation to be useful on more than a superficial level. If you just take MBTI and don’t have it interpreted, you are probably not using the information correctly, and the same is true of CliftonStrengths or any other assessment.

  5. Seal*

    #1 – I work at a mid-size public university that has students, faculty, and staff do the StrengthsFinder exercise. Fortunately, no one has ever mandated that we put our strengths in our signature lines, but a few people in the department that runs that particular test do. Even though I know what it is, I find it off putting to see a random grouping of words, especially “woo”, at the bottom of an administrator’s signature line. Without context, it just looks weird.

    1. Loose Seal*

      So what strength is woo? Um, the only one I can think of is only useful if you have an office duck club.

      1. Cherry*

        You can usually spot someone with woo – they are able to bring people on board easily and usually have energy oozing out of them (the ones I know anyways). I agree StrengthsFinder is cool but definitely needs context and shouldn’t be mandatory

          1. Filosofickle*

            Yep!

            “Woo – People who are especially talented in the Woo theme love the challenge of meeting new people and winning them over. They derive satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection with another person.” (from their theme descriptions)

        1. Will*

          See, I associate “woo” with the use among the Science Based Medicine community, where it describes the compelling or persuasive nonsense that a charlatan says in order to sell people stuff they made up. And it kind of sounds like that’s how StrengthsFinder is using it too!