Celebrating Halloween in the workplace

By MGMA staff members
October 30, 2016
Body of Knowledge Domain(s):

Halloween isn’t just for kids – plenty of adults love to dress up and enjoy all the holiday has to offer. But celebrating Halloween in the workplace could be more trick than treat for practice administrators. Every practice should take the decision about whether to let employees dress up seriously.

Allowing staff to dress up can add a bit of fun to the workday -- and may help build camaraderie and teamwork -- but if you do encourage costumes, there should be a few ground rules.

“Not all people perceive Halloween as a celebration,” says Susan Whitney, CPC-I, senior content manager, MGMA. “It is, after all, a holiday that originated as a dark pagan ritual honoring lords of the dead.”

Whitney recommends considering political correctness, religious beliefs and safety when outlining what kinds of costumes to allow in your office.

“What one person may perceive as totally appropriate may prove totally offensive to another,” says Whitney. And it’s not just employees – you have to consider how costumes may interfere with the care of your patients.

The Society for Human Resource Management offers these general tips for employers:

  • Communicate costume guidelines clearly in advance.
  • Don’t overreact, but be sensitive.
  • Reflect on last Halloween and the feedback the practice received from employees or patients.
  • Consider alternative ways to celebrate.
  • Be prepared to discipline, if necessary. 

If you decide to allow staff to dress up for the holiday in your office, make sure to remind staff of guidelines beforehand, including your office’s general dress code, so that no one shows up dressed inappropriately, potentially ruining the holiday for everyone.

MGMA staff members

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