Etiquette Surrounding Holiday Decorations

The holidays are almost upon us and it is now time to start thinking about how you will handle the tug of war that occurs in offices around the world concerning the appropriate seasonal decorations that can and cannot be used in offices. Approximately half of your employees’ waking hours are spent at work, which is why many of your employees want to liven up their work areas with seasonal decorations. Unfortunately, this can cause problems within the workplace. Check out this guide from House of Fisher on how to keep everyone happy.

Problems Arise Due to Differing Opinions

One of the most common issues that arise when it comes to holiday decorations is the opinions of others as to what decorations are appropriate and which holiday should be celebrated. Most offices and businesses have adapted to mixing the traditions associated with Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa together due to the makeup of their staff. This can help with camaraderie and may open up conversations about how the holidays differ. Unfortunately, it can also give rise to the battle for the rights of those who do not celebrate the holidays and those who embrace holiday decorations wholeheartedly. One of the best things that you can do to help prevent or diminish the division around holiday decorations is to establish a company policy concerning holiday decorations and safety issues.

You may want to start by publishing a set of rules that states the types of holiday decorations that are acceptable and what items are not acceptable due to safety reasons. For example, you can require that all items be flame retardant and no candles can be lit. Lights should be rated for indoor use and all hallways and exits should be free of all displays to prevent the flow of traffic through the area. This is a straightforward approach that can be quite simple.

Unfortunately, dealing with seasonal displays and music can be more difficult. Items like scented pine cones can irritate employees’ noses, the blinking Christmas lights can cause headaches and the music can be disruptive to your staff. You want to make sure that all of your employees are happy and not cater to a few who want holiday decorations throughout your workspace. If your employees have individual offices, it can be easier to deal with. If, on the other hand, they work at cubicles, their holiday decorations can infringe on their neighbour’s space. If you decide to allow decorations at cubicles make sure that all decorations are contained within the cubicle and that it does not interfere with the employee’s or other employees’ ability to work.

Survey Results Concerning Holiday Decor Policies Around the Country

The International Facilities Management Assoc. (IFMA) completed a study in 2006 of their members, concerning the policies surrounding holiday decorations in the workplace. Ninety-four per cent of survey respondents reported that they allow their employees to decorate their office for the holidays. Christmas decorating was the most common holiday decorated for, with Hanukkah and Kwanzaa making up the remaining six per cent of responses. Twenty-five per cent of workplaces reported problems surrounding holiday decorating. Of these reported challenges, eighty-five per cent of the complaints resulted in policy changes. The top reasons for problems were safety concerns, excess decorations and damage to the facilities. Some respondents reported that they held contests on holiday displays, such as the prettiest decor, the funniest, etc. This contest was used to boost employee morale. It is important to remember that not all of your employees will be satisfied with any change that is made. Some believe that the more that is done, the better it looks while others feel that no amount of decorations are appropriate due to their implied religious subtext.

Most companies agreed that if an employee wanted to decorate their personal space that it should be done on the employee’s time, either before or after work or on their lunch break. Furthermore, no decoration should impose on other employees. Religious symbols like nativities should be unobtrusive to prevent offending other employees. It was also agreed that commercialised decorations like snowmen and garlands are appropriate.

Decorating public spaces in workplaces should be kept in line with the business. For example, toy companies will have exuberant displays compared to the more conservative displays at a bank. Just like dress codes, the rules of holiday decorating should be in line with your workplace and customer and client interaction.