Why You Got Fired After the Holiday Work Party

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At the business holiday party, employees start to celebrate the end of the year with their coworkers, supervisors, and other colleagues. Employees can’t wait for the forthcoming holiday party because they can let loose, but your HR department and boss are living the worst nightmare. Managers worry about the possible workplace challenges, drama, and fallout that a holiday party with alcohol for work brings as staff plot to spike the eggnog and look for the ideal Secret Santa gift.

Why You Got Fired After the Holiday and Christmas Work Party

Managers, especially your human resources department, walk on eggshells anticipating the next employee investigation, sexual harassment claim, or termination that comes with the annual office soiree.

There hasn’t been a year that I haven’t had to deal with a disastrous office holiday party. I’ve witnessed it all, from allegations of unwanted touching and sexual harassment to holiday punch being tampered with. A few years ago, I had to deal with a guy coworker who, after making overtures and having conversations with a female coworker at the holiday party, left suggestive post-it notes on her computer. These brief but concise messages were quite clear. He went too far and started texting and using social media to harass her. He was immediately fired for his behavior. You can probably now see why HR and your manager detest the yearly office holiday party.

Holiday parties are cause for celebration but they also lend to bad decisions and employee actions that have consequences.

Company Party Holiday Tips

Holiday parties are fun and a chance to celebrate with co-workers and friends, and anticipate the year ahead, especially with the bull economy we are experiencing. Regardless of how secure your position is, it’s important to consider any work, even if it is after hours, as an opportunity to further demonstrate your professionalism and value to the company.

– 2 Drink Maximum.

Exert self-control and opt to limit yourself to two alcoholic beverages at your holiday workplace event. With alcohol, inhibitions are decreased. Keep from saying or doing something you will regret come Monday.

– Use the Wingman Strategy.

 While on the surface your workplace holiday party might look like a social event, it is a political and networking opportunity that revolves around work and your career. Opt to bring a responsible friend, wingman, or spouse who can help you work the room, elevate your personal brand, and keep you in check. Prep them beforehand on the politics and game plan before the holiday party begins.

– Hands Off and Eyes Up.

Employees are often dressed to the nines, wearing less than you’re used to. Keep your eyes up and hands off at all costs. Don’t check that sexual harassment training at the door, and remember to keep your conversation and compliments professional.  You are on company time even if you are not clocked in.

– Your Evening Dress Should Be Professional.

 Remember, all the world is a stage. The  event is after hours, but it’s still work related.  Conservative evening attire is best. I say this with nothing but love for you but what kind of assets do you want to be remembered for during your annual employee review? I imagine that any manager would have a hard time focusing during a meeting if your employee showed up in the holiday costume above. Keep it professional at all times.

– Exit Early.

 Nothing good ever happens after midnight.  Know your limit and excuse yourself before the inevitable embarrassment happens – hopefully involving someone else. Make an appearance, keep it professional, and make an exit. Consider making plans to meet up with your work friends – minus your boss – somewhere else after the event.

Holiday Party Horror Stories

I once had a regional manager who got sick on stage during karaoke  at a formal corporate holiday event. While he didn’t lose his job, it was certainly embarrassing. Employees nicknamed him Barf. Successfully navigating the company holiday party sounds like a job, doesn’t it? Well, that’s exactly what it is.  It’s work, and we all want to keep working. Give your boss something good to remember you by as the company’s fiscal year comes to a close, especially in this new transparent workplace where it’s easier than ever to have your personal dirty laundry aired on the internet and on  social media with like TikTok Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook Live. Don’t become a January termination statistic as a result of your actions at the office holiday party.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell is the founder of Workology, a digital resource that reaches more than a half million HR and workplace leaders each month and host of the Workology Podcast. Jessica lives in Austin, TX, with her husband, daughter, and an assortment of furry family members.


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