office christmas party‘Tis the season for holiday parties in the workplace. While the mood is festive and relaxed, it’s still a work function, and there are things you should remember as you navigate the holiday gathering. Career coaches Charles and Sherri Mitchell, the co-founders of All About People, a Phoenix-based professional recruitment and hiring firm, say that according to surveys, about 15 percent of companies who have holiday parties say inappropriate employee behavior has impacted an individual’s career growth at a company. Avoid behaviors like the ones below, and you’ll be at the top of next year’s guest list.

  1. Excessive Eating. People who attend events understand that food and drinks will be part of the experience. Enjoy the hors d’oeuvres and buffet, but don’t eat like it’s your only meal for the week. Properly discard napkins, toothpicks, etc. vs. leaving on the table. You don’t want to be labeled as the “messy” party attendee.
  1. Excessive Drinking. This is probably the most common mistake some employees and leaders make at company holiday celebrations. Don’t forget where you are — at work! — with coworkers and managers. Treat the party as an extension of your work day. Keep in mind that everything has the potential to turn into judgment about your professionalism. Limit drinks with alcohol to a maximum of two. Regardless of an open bar, nobody should over-consume!
  1. Inappropriate Attire. You’re not going to a club, you’re going to a work party. Leave the form fitting, low cut, sequined dress in your closet and lighten up on the new perfume. For men, dress conservatively as well. Same goes for your new cologne … easy does it! This may be a holiday party, but you’re rubbing elbows with your coworkers, not your friends and family. Think about the image you’d like your coworkers to have of you in the coming months. You do need to see these people — and work with them — again on Monday morning.
  1. Mingle. Be sure to acknowledge all your coworkers. This is a great opportunity to spend time with associates you don’t know, as well as leaders in the organization. Talk to your coworkers and bosses about work only in a positive fashion. No one wants to listen to someone complaining all evening. Engage your coworkers and management about topics outside of work like hobbies, family, etc. Don’t forget to listen. That’s as important as small talk!
  1. Attendance. This is a work function. Some think if they show up discreetly late, circle the room once, speak to a few colleagues, the boss and a direct counterpart that you will be safe to leave 20 minutes later. Understand this: showing up fashionably late is not okay. Arrive within the first 30 minutes if possible. Everyone remembers who stayed for just a few minutes. Senior managers should make a point of staying as long as possible. That means if you’re not there when the event starts, you should certainly stay until the end.

Listen to the interview with Sherri Mitchell

About Charles and Sherri Mitchell:

Since 2002, Charles and Sherri Mitchell have helped some 25,000 people find the right career path, while at the same time helping thousands of companies search for and recruit top talent. The Mitchells founded All About People, a Phoenix-based professional recruitment and hiring firm that’s begun nationally franchising and Hire Vision, a career coaching firm. For the past 19 years, they’ve coached people on how to master an interview, write a killer resume, captain technology to land that dream job and navigate the “hidden job market” that never shows up on the online job boards.


The Mitchells also work closely with HR departments and high level company decision makers across the country to attract highly credentialed candidates in industries across the board. Charles is a lawyer with an MBA and is a graduate of Harvard Business School’s Owner/President Management program. Sherri has been in hiring and recruiting “since birth,” she says. Before she co-owned All About People, she was a partner at one of the fastest growing staffing and search firms in the country.