We all know that the awareness of sexual harassment and gender bias in the workplace is at an all time high. How can we not? The stories just keep on coming, faster than we can digest them. In light of all of this bad news, companies and employees are reevaluating their upcoming holiday parties. You know the ones, where everyone gets the chance to drink themselves under the table with colleagues. Suddenly, you’re acting in ways that are surprising, to say the least.
Before writing this post, I reached out to a long time friend of mine who works as a human resources director. She laughingly told me that the busiest week in HR is always the week after the holiday party. Employees come in with complaints of sexual harassment and overall inappropriate behaviour. I could just see her shaking her head over our phone call. She said during the week after the holiday party she basically has a rotating door to her office.
What does interesting tidbit tell us?
It tells us what we probably already know: that the holiday party can be a night of debauchery, drinking and fun, yet someone will always end up paying for it in the end. That is why this year, you may want to look at this night out a little differently. You surely don’t want to set yourself up for a potentially bad situation. Maybe this year, you want to skip it. Maybe this year, you don’t want to risk being Monday’s office gossip, or worse, out of a job.
You should know, it is okay to say no this year, or any year. Depending on your company’s culture, you can make a decision that will be best for you. Some companies choose different paths for these events, but if you feel yours will lead to a bad hangover and potentially some awkward and regretful conversations or activities, just say no. Here are three options to consider if you decide to skip the party this year.
How to Say No to Your Company’s Holiday Party
1. Politely decline.
Wondering how to get out of it? Keep it simple. Say you are taking a rain check this year. It doesn’t mean you are not a team player, it just means that you would like to find another way to celebrate the holiday and your colleagues. Your professional reputation and relationships are what should prevail and be your legacy, so not attending the party may be the best choice for you. But whatever you decide, it is your choice.
2. Offer up another idea.
Offer an idea to management that is a unique and healthy way to celebrate with your colleagues. It could be a holiday scavenger hunt, or a holiday decorating competition. Either way, these are still team building situations and are fun and productive. You could even offer to organize it the following year to show your engagement.
3. Be Your Own Host.
Another way to celebrate timewith your “work family” is to host a Sunday brunch at your home or do it collaboratively with your friends as a potluck event. You can share your best ham, stuffing, eggs benedict, potato latkes and fruitcake. This way, you can celebrate and have fun on your turf, and on your terms. i
4. Stay in Charge.
Whether you go, or don’t go, either way, there is no bad choice. You just have to know what is best for you. Don’t feel pressured by others who are pulling the, “Awww, c’mon! It will be fun!! Remember last year when you took that Jager shot?” Be your authentic self and listen to your inner voice. If something makes you feel uncomfortable about attending, than opt out. Your job will still be there waiting for you to execute to the best of your (sober) abilities.
Holly Caplan is an award-winning manager and author of Surviving the Dick Clique: A Girl’s Guide to Surviving the Male Dominated Corporate World.