Just because you’re too old to trick-or-treat, doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate Halloween. Today is October 31st and many organizations are bringing out the jack-o-lanterns, candy corn, and costume and pumpkin-carving contests. Depending on your corporate culture, celebrating Halloween in the workplace can be a fun way to create a unique office holiday tradition and engage employees.
More of a commercial holiday than a religious one, employees are often more willing to participate in Halloween workplace festivities. Encouraging employees to collaborate, communicate, and channel their creativity into group activities can even help to foster a team-oriented work culture. In fact, according to a survey by O.C. Tanner, employee engagement was higher when workers were allowed to dress up for Halloween. About 73% of survey respondents who were able to dress up for Halloween said they felt highly motivated to contribute toward their company’s success, compared to only 58% for those who were not allowed to dress up.
Halloween functions can be a fun way to highlight your culture and personalities of your people. So, get in the spirit of this fall holiday (and invite your employees to participate). But beware, before you go full haunted office, take a look at how these five companies appropriately incorporate Halloween festivities into their work environment:
littleBits is a New York City-based startup that makes DIY open source technology and hardware kits for inventors of all ages. On Halloween, the company challenges employees to channel their technical prowess and creativity in the form of office decorations. Members from different teams use littleBits tools to design fun, interactive decorations, like spooky doorbells and fake spiders. Everyone also is encouraged to work in costume for the company’s annual Halloween costume contest. Some of the getups are handmade by employees utilizing the startup’s collaborative work spaces. Later in the day, the littleBits powered DrinkerBot serves everyone Halloween-themed cocktails!
PowerReviews develops software that collects rating and reviews on websites from brands and retailers to help consumers make more informed decisions. The company is known for hosting random spirit days where employees can sport any number of fun outfits, and as a result, they’re extra prepared for Halloween costume competitions. Additionally, they have cross-departmental trick-or-treating, allowing for interaction across different teams to promote communication, collaboration, and engagement. It's a fun way to bring the company together that doesn't feel forced.
At Solstice, a digital consulting company, Halloween is all about creative costuming. Employees use their designer skills to show off their best homemade getups. One of company’s teams even designed an app so that employees could share pictures of themselves in their Halloween costumes. Solstice's culture seems to be family-oriented as well, because their Halloween celebrations are always a family affair. Spouses and children are invited to come dressed up in costume.
Halloween can be a time for giving back. The Beaver County Humane Society in Center Township, Pennsylvania has a culture of philanthropy, and last year it raised $15,000 last year by turning a trail on its property into a “Beastly Haunted Trail.” The society also attracts hundreds of tourists to its Hundred Acres Manor; many come from other states. In a dozen years, the attraction has raised millions of dollars for various local charities. The society uses Halloween as an opportunity to showcase their company culture of being thoughtful, community-oriented, and charitable.
Just because you work on a virtual team, doesn’t mean you have to skip out on the Halloween festivities. When Lynn Theodoro, Xerox’s director of employee relations, and her team went remote in 2008, she realized it would be difficult for all of them to attend their company’s annual holiday events. Theodoro came up with her own idea: “Let’s have our own parties.” Since then, she has organized virtual gatherings that have become a tradition. Last year, about a dozen people attended by logging into their video conferencing platform. They enjoyed good conversation, drank fun beverages, and shared recipes. The team occasionally gathers virtually for Halloween, even dressed in costume.
With all that in mind, remember that office holiday celebrations must fit within your company’s culture. It’s possible to go overboard—offensive costumes, safety issues, inappropriate decorations. A bad experience for employees or customers could lead to a public relations nightmare. Possible pitfalls, however, are by all means preventable. For employers deciding how, or whether, to bring Halloween to the workplace, consider your organization’s culture, its approach to diversity, HR policies, and the office environment. Then make a decision that makes the most sense for your organization.
Remember to “creep” it real! Does your company celebrate Halloween? Leave a comment below and share your experience! And, be sure to check out @exaqueo on Instagram and Twitter for Halloween photos from our virtual team.