Office Party Etiquette: Avoid Doing These 10 Things

By Robert Half November 1, 2018 at 5:00pm

When it’s time for an office party, do you make an appearance, make a scene or make other plans? Even if your attendance is not mandatory, the first piece of office party etiquette is to accept the invitation.

A new OfficeTeam survey shows that 93 percent of companies will host holiday festivities this year. Nearly half (48 percent) of the seasonal soirees will take place at the company, and another 48 percent will be off-site. Do workers have to show up? Sixty-six percent of managers say the unwritten rule is yes.

No matter if you’re an executive sending an invitation, an employee or a consultant sending an RSVP, try your best to remember your office party etiquette. If your conduct gets you pegged as “one to watch,” make sure it’s for the right reasons.

To help you out, we'll give you 10 less-than-acceptable behaviors so you can have a great time without sending your career off-track. Follow the right office party etiquette by avoiding the following:

1. Talking shop 'til they drop

Even though it’s a great opportunity for quality time with colleagues, an office party should be about mingling, not brainstorming. Be aware of people’s subtle cues if they’re looking to make a graceful exit from too much shop talk.

2. Bringing everyone down

An office party is not the place to unload your bah-humbug attitude, complain about injustice or wallow in woe. Keep a cheery disposition and offer upbeat discussion topics.

3. Stirring up controversy

Steer clear of contentious issues involving politics or religion. Opt for lighter fare instead, like your favorite restaurants, good books, interesting travel destinations or entertainment news.

4. Drinking too much eggnog

Don’t overindulge in alcoholic beverages at the open bar. That old adage is true: “Loose lips sink ships,” or in this case, careers. When your judgment is impaired, you’re more likely to do or say something that you’re sure to regret, but your boss is sure to remember.

5. Showing up starving

Eating a bite beforehand will help you focus your attention on those around you, rather than on the buffet table.

6. Violating the dress code

Find out what's expected in terms of holiday attire, and stick with it. Avoid clothing or accessories that are overly festive or revealing.

7. Gossiping and gawking

The office party may look and feel social, but it’s still a business function. If you’re pointing fingers or intruding on someone’s personal space, you’re not only damaging your team’s morale, you may also be violating your company’s harassment policies.

8. Standing in the corner

Use the opportunity to mingle with other people outside your other circle. Branch out and network with support staff, employees from other departments and executives.

9. Letting your 'plus one' be a negative

If guests are allowed, choose wisely. Remember, your date's behavior is a reflection on you.

10. Staying until the lights go out

Make your exit with the bulk of the crowd. Don't be the first or last to leave.

Any more office party etiquette?

Show your appreciation to the host and others who worked on the event by thanking them in person or sending them a note afterward.

As for holiday gift giving, it's optional. The survey shows more than half of workers (58 percent) hand out year-end presents. Half of them give gifts to coworkers, and 35 percent give to their boss.

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