There are several ways to maintain business protocol during the holiday season, with most of them falling under three categories – gift-giving, general office etiquette, and holiday parties.
As far as gift-giving goes, finding the proper gift will be a challenge, determining a monetary amount to spend will be too, since you don’t want to look cheap or embarrass other employees by overspending. So to begin with, find out if gift giving is allowed, and if there’s a spending limit in place. Many employers simply don’t allow it, while others set the limit for you. Also, remember that giving a gift to your supervisor isn’t required, but if you choose to do so, keep it modest for obvious reasons. Giving gifts to your underlings should be done with caution, as they might think there’s some sort of quid pro quo involved. So you may want to limit any gift giving to your equals. And stay away from heading up a group gift effort. There’s too much room for dissension and gossip if some donate more than others. And in general, keep your gifts rather thoughtful, but also generic. Not anything too personal. A batch of cookies is always a good idea, or some other food-related dish.
For general office etiquette, remember that most workplaces these days are rather diverse. So you might want to think twice before putting up a manger scene. The reason being is that Christmas is celebrated by different folks in different ways. If you want to decorate, keep it generic and simple – maybe some nice flowers and generic ribbons and bows. And remember to follow any and all holiday leave policies. Plus, don’t forget, just because you are married with children does not give you any more right to take time off compared to say your single coworkers. Everyone wants to spend time with family and friends no matter their personal backgrounds.
The most important topic to consider for business protocol is office parties. To begin with, let everyone know whether you’re coming or not. Don’t just let this question go unanswered. If attending, be on time. There’s no such thing as being fashionably late for an office party, it’s considered disrespectful. Be sure to thank the folks who put the event together, and try to speak with just about everyone, even if you’re not staying all night. Be courteous, friendly, and respectful, no matter any personal feelings. Avoid talking shop, but also avoid topics like religion, politics, and sex, all of which are potential landmines. Keep your attire modest and rather generic. You can show off at other parties if you feel the need. Don’t over eat, especially if it’s a buffet – it’s just not a good look. And by all means, limit the alcohol consumption. You could choose to not drink at all if you don’t trust yourself – remember, it’s only one evening and you’ll surely have time to really celebrate at other holiday parties if you choose to. If you want to loosen up a little, set a drink limit for yourself – like two or three. The last thing you want is to be “that guy” so to speak only to arrive at work the next day with people talking behind your back or with a boss who now has a much lower opinion of you overall.
About the Author: David Bakke is a business expert at Money Crashers. He lives in Atlanta, GA.