This time of year can always be stressful. If you celebrate Christmas, you’re probably worrying about decorating, shopping, shipping, preparing, cooking, baking, traveling, etc… However, there’s a hidden danger this time of year you should be concerned with: the company Christmas party. This party can be seen as a time to cut loose and forget about job stress, but it can also lead to the end of a career.
While a company party is a great time to come together with coworkers, you can’t treat these events the same way you would with a night out on the town with your closest buddies. Before you find yourself packing your personal belongings (or at a minimum, finding your foot in your mouth), follow these basic guidelines to ensure your job is still waiting for you:
- You represent your employer outside of work – I’ve mentioned this before, but even if you’re partying away from your place of employment, and even if you’re “off the clock”, anything negative you do outside of work can reflect badly on your employer, along with affecting you directly. Be sure to think ahead before you act. You might not be “working” at a company event, but your employer will treat bad behavior the same way they would during normal working conditions.
- Be careful with the booze – This can be the biggest reason for a loss of employment. Some companies don’t allow alcohol at company events, while others do. If your company allows it, just remember that alcohol affects your judgment. I’ve personally seen more than one employee get fired (at different places of employment, nonetheless) for doing or saying something foolish because they drank too much at a company event. If you’re going to drink in front of coworkers, be sure you drink in moderation.
- Don’t be a “Don Juan” – Maybe you have a crush on a coworker. The company party may seem like a perfect time to make a move since it may be more informal, but it can actually backfire and create a nightmare with HR. If the target of your affection doesn’t reciprocate that affection, they might claim harassment, and you might be escorted to the exit the next day.
Watch the gossip – Again, the less informal setting can give you a false sense of security. You might think that you are free to say more than you normally would about your coworkers or boss, but be ready to pay for each negative comment. You might not be fired, but your comments could earn you a label you don’t want. At a minimum, it could jeopardize future promotions and/or merit increases.
- No unnecessary use of the copy machine – Ok, maybe people don’t do this as much as you see in a stereotypical 80’s movie that shows a holiday company party, but don’t use the office copy machine to take images of certain parts of your anatomy. Just don’t.
What other traps exist at a company party? Leave your comments!