Tag: costumes

Scare away spending this Halloween?

This Halloween, Americans are expected to spend a near-record amount of $8.8 billion on costumes and other decorations. While the holiday traditionally attracts a core of committed fans, many are also peer-pressured to jump into the festivity’s spending. 

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Ori Heffetz, professor of applied economics at Cornell University’s SC Johnson College of Business, is an expert on consumption and studies the psychological, social and cultural aspects of economic behavior. Heffetz says that when it comes to celebrations, Halloween has become the holiday to show off one’s status.

Bio: https://www.johnson.cornell.edu/faculty-research/faculty/oh33/

Heffetz says:

“From a consumer-economics point-of-view, Halloween is unique in at least two ways relative to other holidays. First, in addition to home decorations, which can be reused from year to year (say, like Christmas decorations), Halloween is much more about the costumes. Reusing decorations is relatively easy, but reusing costumes is more difficult, because our children grow fast, and because costumes are often less durable, and kids destroy them quickly.

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“Second, wearables are among the most socially visible items a family could spend on. This unsurprising observation is confirmed and quantified in my research on expenditure visibility. This could make costumes a child’s membership card into some social circles, and the right costume can be an opportunity to display one’s status within a group.

“Even if we gave up on the costumes and stuck to decorations, while a family’s Christmas tree and many of the related decorations are only visible to those guests who are invited to visit inside the home, Halloween decorations are visible to anyone driving down the street.

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“In short, in both decorations and costumes, Halloween is the expenditure-visibility holiday! For some parents this could be a not-to-be-missed opportunity for public display. Other parents may feel that they are reluctantly dragged into this race, or they risk disappointing their children.”

For interviews contact:
Rebecca Valli
office: 607-255-6035
cell: 607-793-1025
rv234@cornell.edu

Cornell University has dedicated television and audio studios available for media interviews supporting full HD, ISDN and web-based platforms.

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Halloween Costumes at Work?

Halloween is a dicey time of year for managers and employees alike. A well-planned celebration can boost morale, energize the staff, and help to build connections between co-workers. But an inappropriate costume, or a party that goes off the rails, can damage reputations and even lead to terminations and legal problems.

Jessica Methot, an associate professor of human resource management in the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations (SMLR), separates the tricks from the treats.

When is it OK to wear a costume to work?

Employees should only wear a Halloween costume if company leadership has clearly communicated an invitation to do so. If you have recently joined the company and you are not yet familiar with its culture and policies, ask multiple sources for advice (including your boss). Don’t rely on just one co-worker for guidance. An office jokester may try to trick you into dressing up when no one else does.

If you do wear a costume, bring a change of clothes to work if you expect to have any meetings or videoconferences with external stakeholders. If you know the client personally and you have established an informal relationship, the costume could be appropriate and funny. But meeting a new client dressed as the Charlie Chaplin might not set the most professional tone.

Which costumes are too risqué for the office?

Some employees see dressing up as an opportunity to “bring their whole selves to work”—a chance to express an aspect of their identity typically left at home. But this can be tricky.

Company leadership and HR managers should communicate their policy on costumes and props (including fake guns and knives). Generally speaking, avoid anything that may be interpreted as too revealing, provocative, politically-charged, or inappropriate for a professional setting. Not sure? Check with HR.

Beyond what you wear to the office, it’s also important to think about what you post on social media. We often forget how much our professional contacts can see about us online. Posting a picture of yourself wearing a risqué costume can blur personal and professional boundaries.

What are the consequences for going overboard?

Wearing an inappropriate costume can damage your professional image. In extreme cases, it could even pose legal and safety risks.

Workplace violence is a very real issue today. If your costume includes a weapon and you joke about hurting people, your co-workers may disagree with the humor and find it threatening. They could take legal action against the organization for allowing a hostile work environment.

A provocative or revealing costume raises concerns about sexual harassment, especially in the heightened awareness of the #MeToo era. You could be disciplined if your outfit violates company guidelines. Co-workers who make sexually-explicit remarks, or engage in other harassing behaviors toward you, could face serious consequences including termination.

Importantly, companies must be careful not to victim-blame. Discipline should not be framed as though the employee wearing the revealing costume “invited” the comments or was at fault for being on the receiving end.

The bottom line? HR must enforce costume guidelines consistently across the workforce and the discipline should always fit the infraction.

Is there an upside for employers?

Absolutely. Despite these risks, there is a good business case for throwing Halloween celebrations and welcoming costumes.

If implemented strategically, they can strengthen the company’s culture, reinforce its emphasis on fun, improve employee relationships, and even boost employee well-being and productivity. Celebrations give employees a chance to recharge, which also spills over into improved life and family satisfaction. In the long run, these types of celebrations, and a “fun” organizational culture, can help attract new employees, improve employee commitment, and reduce turnover rates.

However, it is important to align these celebrations with the organizational culture. A fun work environment is defined by consistent access to workplace activities, games, and group outings. If a Halloween celebration is an isolated event, it might be perceived as a superficial attempt at engaging employees.

Contact: To schedule an interview with Jessica Methot, please contact Steve Flamisch at 848.252.9011 (cell) or steve.flamisch@smlr.rutgers.edu.

Broadcast Interviews: Rutgers University–New Brunswick has broadcast-quality TV and radio studios available for remote live or taped interviews