[Two cents] Tis' the season to be... appropriate

"A little party never killed nobody", Fergie once sang, but she's clearly not referring to an office function.

Making a fool of themselves throughout the night while under the influence. Offending a colleague with awkward and uncomfortable comments. Crying hysterically about a lost love. Flirting with a co-worker only to regret it the next morning.

These are just a few of the inappropriate behaviours employees have been known to display at the annual office holiday party. They think no one’s watching, but the reality is that every eye is on them.

In the 2016 film literally titled Office Christmas Party, the staff of a fictitious technology firm throw an extremely wild Christmas party behind their not-so-festive boss’ back, and while what ensued was hilarity and an eventually happy ending, staff in Asia-Pacific would definitely be fired if they tried the same thing.

Sure, as Fergie once sang, “a little party never killed nobody”. But she doesn’t mention “disciplinary action” and I’m pretty sure she’s not referring to a workplace function.

The holiday bash is a great way for staff to finally let their hair down and have a good ol’ time with the same people they don’t always see eye to eye with, but this is where many of us (yes, myself included) can make the mistake of going too far.

I’ve certainly experienced my fair share of being the party clown. And let me tell you – it was not pretty. Falling asleep right in the midst of all the commotion, when it was barely 8pm, is just the one example I’ll share in print today.

But over the years, here are some things I’ve learned to tell myself on the eve of the company Christmas party. You might find them useful too, either for yourself, or simply to share subtly with any “at-risk” staff or teams:

·         This is not a dance off

·         This is not open-mic night. And more importantly, you’re not a stand-up comic

·         If you’re drinking more than you’re eating, you need to change the ratio

·         Don’t mix your drinks. This always seems like it will end well, but never does

·         There is always one person taking stock of everyone’s actions

·         That is your boss, not your best friend

·         Like Cinderella, leave before midnight

·         If all else fails, truly own your silliest behaviour come Monday

At HRM Asia, we take our annual festivities very seriously.

Our day is split into two parts: An inter-department area decoration competition in the morning, followed by a second half where the actual merry-making happens.

For last year’s area decoration competition, a few of the teams turned out some ridiculously elaborate and stunning designs. One team had snow puffs hanging from the ceiling above their seats, while another made their work zone look like the Kingdom of Arendelle from the movie Frozen.

(The editorial team didn’t have the best of showings, but we’re made some serious amends this year. Check out pictures from this year's festivities here!)

We then took to the outdoors, as in East Coast Park in Singapore, to indulge in a few very serious games of laser tag (people got really competitive), before night fell and the beer and wine replaced the iced tea and soft drinks.

Thankfully, nothing wild happened that night, at least for me. And I intend to keep my positive reputation at my second end-of-year party with the company this year.

So if you’re not cool with your senior colleagues never looking at you in the same, professional way again, try having one less drink, or two.  Unless, of course, they’re the ones partying the hardest.

In that case, I just hope you hold your liquor well.  

The Two Cents column sees HRM Magazine’s Kelvin Ong offer his "#NoFilter" take on the latest HR and business happenings from around the world. Head to the forum now for more of such opinion pieces. 


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