We all know that the awareness of sexual harassment and gender bias in the work place is at an all time high. The stories just keep on coming. They do not stop. Every day a new woman comes forward and everyday a new man is vehemently apologizing on a major network. In light of all of this, companies and employees are revaluating their upcoming holiday parties, which often becomes the chance to drink heavily with your colleagues and act in ways you otherwise would not. Before writing this, I reached out to a long time friend of mine who works as a human resources director. She laughingly told me that the busiest week in HR is always the week after the holiday party. Employees come in with complaints of sexual harassment and overall ill behavior. I could just see her shaking her head over our phone call. She said during the week after the holiday party she has a rotating door to her office accommodate all those that come through.
What does this tell us?
It tells us that the holiday party can be a night of debauchery, drinking and fun, yet someone will always end up paying for it in the end. That is why this year, you, the employee, should be looking at this differently. You surely don’t want to set yourself up for a potentially bad situation. In our current climate, it is too dangerous and at the very least could result in you becoming the office gossip on Monday and at worst, could cost you your job.
You should know, it is okay to say no this year, or any year. Depending on your company’s culture, you can make a decision that will be best for you. Some companies choose different paths for these events, but if you feel yours will lead to a bad hangover and potentially some awkward and regretful conversations or activities, just say no. Here are three options to consider if you decide to skip the party this year:
- Politely decline.
Say you are taking a rain check this year. It doesn’t mean you are not a team player, it just means that you would like to find another way to celebrate the holiday and your colleagues. Your professional reputation and relationships are what should prevail and be your legacy, so not attending the party may be the best choice for you. But it is your choice.
- Offer up another idea.
Offer an idea to management that is a healthy way to celebrate with your colleagues. It could be a holiday scavenger hunt, or a holiday decorating competition. Either way, these are still team building situations and are fun and productive. You could even offer to organize it the following year to show your engagement.
- Be Your Own Host.
Another way to celebrate time time with your “work family” is to host a Sunday brunch at your home or do it collaboratively with your friends as a potluck event. You can share your best ham, stuffing, eggs benedict, potato latkes and fruitcake. This way, it is fun, celebratory, yet on your terms.
At the end of the day, the choice to attend will be yours. Whether you go, or don’t go, either way, it isn’t a bad choice. You just have to know what is best for you. Don’t feel pressured by others who are pulling the, “Awww, c’mon! It will be fun!! Remember last year when you took that Jager shot?” Be your authentic self and listen to your inner voice. If something makes you feel uncomfortable about attending, than certainly opt out. Your job will still be there waiting for you to execute to the best of your abilities.