Love them or loathe them, the office party often looms as part of a fixed calendar event that demands some careful forethought. In many ways, they’re hugely important as a way for companies to bring together their employees, and thank them for the previous year of hard work and various successes. They are intended as casual team-building events, morale-boosting celebrations, and a chance for all to let their hair down and become excited about the next working year.
However, as the old proverb goes; the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Despite the fact that office parties are planned and hosted with the best will in the world, they’re a potential deathtrap for social embarrassment, professional faux-pas and all-round disappointment.
Illicit encounters, taking advantage of the bar tab, bad dancing and a touch too much over-familiarity are all present in the murky and treacherous waters which surround the stereotypical office party… but they’re far from the only dangers present. More than one CEO or high-status employee has been brought to ruin (or at best, severe humiliation) by their misbehaviour at a work function, and the danger of letting your hair down among your colleagues or employees is that you may end up risking the respect said colleagues and employees previously held for you.
Play things right, however, and you can turn the office party into a chance to show off your very best side, and boost your standing in the office or workplace for the year to come. Here at A Man Refined, we’ve been to more corporate events and gatherings than we’d care to remember (and indeed, many of them have been lost in the fog of memory), and we like to think we’ve picked up a few nuggets of wisdom to share with the rest of you. Remember, elegance is an attitude, and style is a 24/7 commitment… and with that in mind, let’s take a look through our rundown of our top do’s and don’ts for this year’s office get-togethers.
DO Steer Clear of Office Gossip
This is especially important for those holding a senior position in a company, and it’s perhaps the most difficult to resist of them all. At any gathering which blurs the lines between a personal and professional event, there is bound to be gossip. Your employees are only human, after all, and it’s likely there will be those among your team who enjoy a bit of muck-spreading from time to time, just as it is likely there are members of your team who attract scandal like moths to a flame.
There’s nothing wrong with making conversation with your employees and colleagues – indeed, it would be very strange not to. However, stick to more universal and safe themes, which are unlikely to cause any problems or offence. You don’t want to be lumbered with an unwanted secret, or discover anything which could unfairly change your opinion of someone you work with. Alcohol and rumour-mongering are never, ever a good combination, so if you feel you’ve stumbled into an uncomfortable chat with a co-worker, politely excuse yourself, and head to the dancefloor or bar!
DON’T talk shop
The office party is the perfect opportunity to thank your employees for their commitment throughout the year. However, that doesn’t mean that they’ll want to spend the evening discussing the various highs and lows of the market while they’re trying to enjoy themselves.
Of course, they will be some work-related chat (it’s the one thing you’ll all have in common, after all), but if it does arise, keep it light and general, and try to move on to other topics before their eyes start glazing over.
DON’T drink too much
There’s a reason why office parties are known as events where decorum goes out of the window, and social humiliation reigns supreme… and it’s all down to the free bar.
Alcoholic drinks can be a great way to help your colleagues and employees relax into themselves, and open up and have fun. The problem is, it only takes one drink too many in order for things to turn sour, and it only takes one person to go over their limit to potentially spoil the night. By no means should that person ever, ever be you!
Whether you’re the CEO of the company or an employee, a work party is a perfect opportunity to show off your sense of style and elegance, and nothing erodes sophistication like slurring your words and struggling to stand up straight from the effects of too many cocktails. Know your limit, and do all you can to avoid going over it. You’ll thank us in the morning (or when the photos from the party start doing the rounds on social media).
DO dress your best
While the office party might be an excuse to cut loose a little, there’s never an excuse to turn up to a social function looking anything less than elegant and sophisticated. By no means go down the route of wearing anything intended to raise a chuckle, or which drips with self-conscious irony (I’m talking comedy ties, garishly coloured suits or god forbid a purposefully ugly jumper) – such items of clothing are best kept in the cupboards of students and men lacking in a sense of style.
Pick out your best cut suit, pair it with a plain or patterned shirt and a sharp pair of shoes, and if you want to add a splash of colour, consider a neck-tie or pocket square as a suitably dashing accessory. By dressing well, you’ll be able to make yourself stand out as a man of distinction, even when getting down on the dancefloor or making small talk with your team.
DON’T leave early
Even if you haven’t been involved whatsoever with the organisation of the party, leaving early always makes people look antisocial or rude. This doesn’t mean you have to be the last man standing, but don’t disappear as soon as the meal is over and you’ve had yourself a drink or two. Stick around, mingle with your colleagues and employees, and ensure you come across as an approachable, enthusiastic attendee.