It’s that time of year again. Halloween approaches and of course, it wouldn’t be a HRNasty Halloween if I couldn’t try and predict the tasteless Halloween costumes some fools will wear this year to work.
This year will probably be a double whammy because Halloween falls on a Friday. Companies that specifically designate Dress Casual Friday attire will be in for a special treat because there are always those special few that will feel the boundaries of “casual” have been extended because it is Halloween. For some reason, Dress Casual Friday combined with Halloween empowers extra freedoms of inappropriateness. How I wish for simpler times when costumes consisted of Dracula, ghosts, and witches. Safer times when parents didn’t need to inspect the candy before little Johhny dug into the evening’s spoils of war.
For those of you not familiar with the blog, every year around this time, I try to predict what CLM (Career Limiting Moves) will be committed via CLC’s, aka – Career Limiting Costumes.
2012 What HR thinks of Costumes worn to work
2013 Inappropriate costume cost employee their job
Imagine this scene: Johnny Dumbass comes to work sporting a number 27 Ravens jersey dragging a mannequin dressed as the football players fiancée. I have blogged how I like group costumes because it incorporates teamwork, but it is easy to cross the line. If Johnny skipped the mannequin and Suzy No-sense shows up on Ray Rice’s arm sporting some bruises applied via makeup, the HR department suddenly became the unified group. The team in HR puts their hands in the middle of their athletic-inspired huddle and on the count of three, the battle cry is heard throughout the company. “Bitches, it’s on. Not on our watch!”
No so chic
Throughout the morning, employees with camera phones swarm our Footballer couple like paparazzi. Various inappropriate poses are struck and our sports couple is feeling oh-so-chic. I imagine one of the poses is number 27 mimicking the coup de grace of an uppercut to the chin of his co-conspirator. It’s a big distraction and work production has ground to a halt.
Halfway through the morning, over the company loudspeaker you hear, “Will Johnny Dumbass and Suzy No-sense please report to Human Resources as soon as possible? Johnny Dumbass and Suzy No-sense, please report to HR”. The entire company goes silent for a lonnnngggg extended second. All eyes slowly turn to Johnny and Suzy. Everyone is thinking the exact same thing. From a few departments away, we hear someone say it. “OOOHhhhhh shit”. You hear hushed whispers from various parts of the floor. Both culprits get up slowly from their cubicle and you are suddenly reminded of movie Dead Man Walking.
Johnny and Suzy knew they were pushing the envelope when they got delusional about their tasteless Halloween costume. They laughed, they talked, and in the end, they mistook their laughter for mutual support and went with it.
After 5, not before
It’s OK if you want to go out to your Halloween party as a pregnant nun. Come as Elvira, police officer or nurse with glitter and an abundance of cleavage/ass hanging out. Totally acceptable and please let me know where you will be partying if you are going as one of the last three.
Here’s the thing. Our employers are paying us to do a job. More specifically, they are paying us to make smart decisions. You may have just created a great report that saved your company a lot of money, but when it comes time to put names in a hat for the next big opportunity, guess who is going to be remembered for getting drunk at the company picnic or coming to work as an Ebola victim.
You laugh, but back in my corporate America days, working in a financial institution, an employee came in as a victim of a hurricane that had just cost the company a lot of money and worse, it cost lives. Yes, the costume was amazing costume. Tie flying back behind him held in place with a coat hanger. Hair done up to look like he was in 80 MPH winds. Small dead animals smashed flat on his body like bugs on your car windshield. And an uprooted traffic sign embedded in his body. Yes, it was very clever, but you know managers were thinking “If Johnny put half the effort into his career, he would be a superstar”. Unfortunately, inappropriate timing and a CLM via a CLC.
I can support alcohol, video games, and even massages in the workplace, But every year, there is a dumb ass that doesn’t realize he or she is cutting their career short by wearing a tasteless Halloween costume at a wrong time and the wrong place. The house of your employer would be that place and 9-5 would be that time.
Here is the thing. Very few HR departments will have the courage to pull the employee out of their desk, sit them down in a small room, place their index finger 3 inches in front of their face and wave that finger back and forth while asking “WTF were you thinking dumb ass”.
Very few managers want to spoil the fun when the costume is getting such rave (if not inappropriate) reviews and attention. No manager wants to be “that manager” and no HR department wants to be “that HR department”. Both will assume (OK they will pray) that the other is going to address the situation and at the end of the day, when nothing is done, a lot of the employees are offended and the offender in the tasteless costume goes home thinking he was Ms. Popular or Mr. BMOC. Because nothing was done or said, everyone gets the idea that these types of costumes are “OK”.
Whack a mole
Unbeknownst to Ms. Popular and Mr. BMOC, the next time a big project, promotion, or the need to start a brand new department comes up, guess who’s name goes in the hat? Guess who’s name is quickly squashed because HR just played Whack A Mole with the candidate that came in dressed like a Black Box from Malaysian flight 370.
If you think you are going to be pushing the envelope with your costume, you probably are. If you think for just a minute that your costume may be offensive, assume it will be and “don’t”.
There is a saying I like and have mentioned here a number of times.
“It is better to keep your mouth shut and let everyone think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”
Loosely translated for Halloween
“It is better to come in your normal street closes and let everyone think you have no company spirit than to arrive inappropriately dressed and have your company spirit and future opportunity removed by your employer.”
Before it happens, and I am confident it will, please don’t come to work dressed the following:
- Ebola Victim
- Ray Rice and a bruised Mrs. Rice “to be”.
- Missing Black Box from Flight 307
Totally not cool.
Costumes I do like
Social Media: Simple, color coordinated, and a strong showing of teamwork. These employees are probably promoting the company brand as well.
Christmas Story theme, a movie classic
This Halloween, don’t be “that guy that got called down to HR over the loudspeaker”. Don’t be forgotten when future opportunities come up because you were remembered for the tasteless costume you came in. In the comments below, tell us what costume you expect to see at your company and give folks some ideas of how they can be remembered, both good and bad.
See you at the after party,
nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.
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