Holiday Playbook: How Not to Be the Office Grinch

How Not to Be the Office Grinch

The end-of-year holidays can be stressful for many accounting and finance professionals who see increased social obligations colliding with the usual work-related concerns. Seasonal concerns may range from the additional burden of deciding on “Secret Santa” gifts to balancing time off with work deadlines and trying to decide what to wear to the holiday party.

Before you become the office Grinch, take a deep breath and try to set your anxiety aside. These tips can help you navigate the holiday scene with your reputation and composure intact:

Do participate in gift giving. If there’s an office gift exchange or you’re asked to participate in a group donation, try to do so. These activities build camaraderie with colleagues and show you’re team-oriented.

Do attend the office party. Attendance at office-sponsored social events isn’t usually mandatory, but it’s often expected. Although 61 percent of executives in a survey from OfficeTeam, a Robert Half company, said there’s no unwritten rule requiring employees to attend seasonal soirees, 38 percent indicated that it’s expected.

The bottom line: Showing up is not only a polite way of expressing appreciation to your employer for hosting a party, it sends a message that you value your professional relationships. Office parties offer an opportunity to get to know colleagues on a more personal level, which can make your work life more enjoyable and productive year round.

Don’t overdo it. Even if it’s wise to attend the holiday party, recognize that these gatherings present the potential for career-damaging pitfalls. Moderation is key when it comes to drink, dress and conversation. You don’t want to be remembered as the “life of the party” for all the wrong reasons. Managers, in particular, need to tread especially carefully and lead by example.

Do be outgoing. Holiday work parties present an opportunity to socialize outside your usual circle. Even if you’re not naturally gregarious, aim to engage in small talk with others who you don’t work closely with. Keep discussion of holiday plans general and language neutral. Try safe conversation starters, such as whether others are taking end-of-year time off or have any interesting travel plans.

Don’t be a shopaholic on company time. Know and follow your employer’s rules for online shopping. A separate survey from our company suggests that employers are becoming more lenient about allowing employees access to online shopping sites. Even if your company isn’t overly restrictive, limit shopping-related surfing.

It’s not unusual to let the added obligations of the holidays stress you out a little, especially when they’re combined with work requirements. But keep in mind that most situations that arise can be easily addressed as long as you take a courteous, professional and common sense approach.

For a look at more pitfalls to avoid this holiday season, please see the infographic accompanying this post.