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HR pros: How you can make Halloween a scream in the office

Glassdoor, CA -- While less than half of companies are reported to celebrate Halloween in some way at the office (40%) , a majority (59%) of employees see employer-hosted events like a Halloween party as good for morale.

This year, Glassdoor surveyed¹ employees to find out what they think of Halloween festivities, costumes, inappropriate attire and more.

If you are involved in deciding how big to go for your company’s Halloween festivities, these insights may surprise you when it comes to what employees really enjoy, what they’re most likely to participate in and what they think HR should do if a co-worker takes a costume a bit too far (think Snooki on a bad day):

Costume Disconnect: Most Employees Don’t Plan To Dress Up, But Many Think Co-Workers Will

While 52% of employees plan to attend or participate in their company’s event, only about one in ten (11%) are likely to wear a costume to work. However, when asked if they think their co-workers will dress up 12% thought many would and 27% thought that at least some would.

For those who are likely to dress up and wear a costume to work, two out of five (42%) said that they would likely wear a classic Halloween costume such as a ghost, witch or a pirate. The second most popular Halloween costume to wear to work according to employees is a movie character costume like Katniss from The Hunger Games (20%). This, followed by 11% saying they are likely to wear a work or office-themed costume such as a pink slip, the boss, a 3-hole punch or the company mascot and another 11% noting they would likely wear a pop culture themed costume like a pregnant Snooki. Some other creative costumes that employees said they are planning to wear include pageant banners like "Miss Understood" or "Miss Diagnosed," a walking dead zombie or a historical figure.

Glassdoor’s Human Resources and Talent Acquisition Expert, Amanda Lachapelle, suggests if you are looking to encourage employees to dress up for Halloween, one great way is to start with those at the top of the corporate ladder. (Nearly one in three (29%) of employees hope their boss will dress up for Halloween).

“Halloween parties and other festivities are great for culture creation. One way to make them a success is to build excitement and momentum among top executives. Give employees a heads up that your CEO or other executive will be coming in costume to work, and you may be surprised to see just how many people will show up in a range of creative costumes.”

Inappropriate Costume? Employees Encourage HR To Ask Them To Change Attire

While 46% of employees are unaware if their company has a policy around what is or is not appropriate to where to work, especially when it comes to Halloween costumes, half of employees (51%) feel that if someone wears an inappropriate costume, HR should ask that person to change to something more fitting for the workplace. Interestingly, more than one in ten (14%) think HR should send someone home if they are wearing an inappropriate costume at work, and another 29% feel like HR should be focused on more important issues beyond how to handle an inappropriate Halloween costume.

“Over-communicate to employees if your company has a dress code policy around Halloween costumes, and tell them early, before they plan their costume. You don’t want to be tasked with asking someone to change, or worse, asking them to go home,” said Lachapelle.

Employees agree as one employee notes, “HR should set boundaries before the event” and another employee adds “they should set clear expectations on the dress code.”

Most Employees See Seasonal Festivities as Good for Morale & Company Culture

According to the Glassdoor survey, some of the greatest benefits of employer-hosted events like a Halloween party are the opportunities they provide to boost morale (59%), support team building (50%) and build company culture (40%). In addition, 49% of employees also see work events as a chance to connect with employees in different departments and 43% say it helps connect people across various levels. And of course, most employees (61%) say that it gives them a chance to take a break from work.

Bring on the candy! Pass on the Bobbing for Apples

If you are planning to celebrate Halloween at your company, most employees say bring on the decorations (42%) and the free candy (40%). Some other popular Halloween-related activities employees enjoy at work include: Halloween breakfast or lunch (31%), during-business hours party at the office (29%), a costume contest (27%), an afterhours party at the office(18%), and inviting employees’ kids to work to show off their costumes (18%).

Lachapelle notes, “If you have budget available for any festivities around Halloween, food will always bring people out of their cubes and away from their desks. It provides a chance for people to talk about something other than work. For example, if you know a co-worker who has kids, ask them what costume their kids picked out this year.”

The least popular activities: Bobbing for apples (6%), cookie decorating (9%), and a costume parade around the company and/or office building (11%).

If you are hosting an event at your office in celebration of Halloween, Lachapelle also suggests employee-proofing your workplace.Halloween can mean kids coming in, people tripping over big costumes and plenty of other pitfalls. As you’re planning, consider any liabilities that could come with them, and be mindful that you’re just as responsible for employee safety during any festive time in the office as you would be on a regular workday.”

It’s a treat to leave early on Halloween

Given the choice of an employer-hosted Halloween party or the chance to leave work early, it’s perhaps no surprise that most employees (63%) prefer the latter.

Be flexible when it comes to hours. At Halloween, trick or treaters wait for no one and employees with families will want to leave the office early. While workers enjoy holiday parties in the office, be mindful of hours, and let employees leave early, especially since Halloween falls on a Wednesday this year,” said Lachapelle.

When we asked Lachapelle what the most important thing is to keep in mind when it comes to Halloween festivities at the office, her advice was simple: “Have fun!”

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