How to Handle #HalloweenFail with your Employees


Photo by Fast Company

‘Tis the season for your employees to wear costumes to work. Depending on how liberal your “costume policy” is, you might not have to worry about this at all. However, if you have a lot of new professionals on your team, or you don’t have a “costume policy” at all, you might want to consider how you’ll handle an employee who comes to work dressed like one of these examples.


1.Before Halloween, give examples of “What not to Wear.”
If you simply address what isn’t appropriate and what would be acceptable, you’ll avoid a lot of errors that are a result of misinterpretation. Visuals are good, but avoid overly offensive visuals that could cause issues. HR should lead the communication if possible. If there was any feedback about costume related issues from the previous Halloween, bring those up for discussion and as a point of reference.


2. Be sensitive to the issues.
It can be difficult as a manager to be sensitive to how an employee feels as a result of another employee’s choice of a costume. – This can be especially challenging if you think the costume is creative and funny. However, if you do have an employee who lodges a complaint based on a co-workers attire or comments, actively listen to the issue. No matter how large or small the issue, simply listening in a way that makes the employee feel heard is the first step to handling the nature of the offense. It may result in a call to HR to do a mediation between the employee who is offended and the employee that is the object of the complaint. Generally it’s an innocent choice by an employee who is looking to be creative or funny, and they genuinely do not mean to offend any of their co-workers. -So implementing suggestion number 3 is usually an easy fix.


3.Suggest a less suggestive or violent version of the outfit.
If the costume is a little too revealing or a little too violent, suggest making an edit or two to compromise on potentially offensive aspects of the outfit. If it’s too revealing, just suggest adding a wrap or another layer to the costume. If there’s a mask or an injury that is a little too life-like, negotiate removal of those pieces for part of the day to minimize the risk of co-worker complaints.


The likelihood of you having to manage any of these scenarios is small because only one in ten employees plan on dressing up for the office according to Glassdoor. However, if you do have to address any questionable costumes, use our three tips to diffuse any tricky #HalloweenFail situation that you might have to handle at your office.