Office Parties: Breeding Grounds for Bad Behavior, Flings, and Unemployment

Ah, the holiday office party. A time for employees to wind down, loosen their ties, drink some bubbly, and enjoy a night of much-earned revelry with co-workers. That is, until they wake up hungover and half-naked on top of the copy machine, covered in Post-it notes and crumpled Four Loko cans, and realize their reputation is ruined.

According to a study by HR solutions firm Adecco, this kind of unsavory behavior at office parties is far more common than you might expect. Published this week, the survey of more than a thousand American adults found that about 40% of workers say they've either embarrassed themselves or know someone who has at a work holiday party. And a shocking 23%—1 in 4!—have been reprimanded for their actions.

Pink slips are almost as frequent as red faces. More than 1 in 10 Americans say they know someone who has been fired for their inappropriate behavior at a holiday party. This behavior may include saying something inappropriate to a colleague (7%) or boss (4%), or drinking too much (20%).

Hookups happen, of course, but not as often as you might expect. Just 3% of respondents said they had had a fling with a colleague at a work holiday party. It may be the kind of thing people don't own up to—or it may be that being inebriated hurts your chances as much as it helps.

So be careful this holiday season. Try not to drink too much, sleep with your co-worker, insult your boss, or get fired. It's not worth it.

[Photo by Beltzner]

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  • Lalala

    Is it just me or is this younger generation really seem that uptight? Shoot, during the 60s, 70s, 80s and even 90s most people met their future ex-spouses at holiday office parties, and no real harm done.

  • mojo

    Michael Wade would be fun at the office party! Until he takes his ball and goes home.

  • absolutebrand

    After reading this article, I cannot WAIT to drink stupid at our office party!

  • Michael Wade

    Please remove this picture from the article. It is mine and I did not give permission to use it.

  • Sheena Medina

    Hi Michael- Though the use of that image was fair under a creative commons license, we have removed the photo at your request. Thanks for reading!

  • Michael Wade

    Thank you for removing it, but, for future reference, it seems like it would be good business practice that you get permission for using a photo that has PEOPLE in it with an insulting article attached. The implication with using my picture with your article was that the people in the photo were exhibiting the bad behavior. I can't believe someone in editorial didn't think that would be a problem.

    The sad thing is that I am now unwilling to participate in Creative Commons because I am worried that my photos might be used in a way that is harmful to the subjects. I have confirmed that my entire Flickr stream is All Rights Reserved and even gone so far as to make entirely private any picture with a co-worker.

  • acarr

    Thanks for the comment, Michael.

    I believe your initial request to remove the photo was sent on Thanksgiving Day, when, unsurprisingly and ironically, most of our staff was likely committing many of the indecencies described in this article.


  • Michael Wade

    Thanks for your reply Austin. I figured that was the case. I appreciate Fast Company's swift response in taking down the photo. In all honesty, if someone had asked me first, I could have said, "those are my co-workers and I don't want their image used to illustrate an article about behaving badly at an office party".

    And for all the other people on this list who don't think it's a big deal, wait until someone sues you for not giving permission to use their image (especially in a commercial setting). We'll see how fun you think that is. Hope you've saved up money for a good defense.

  • pingpong1

    Guess what Michael? This article was cached in Google's featured section of Google News, with the original picture! hahaha!!!

    Honestly what did you expect by sharing your pictures in the Creative Commons of Flickr? It's where people that are too cheap to pay for stock photographs use on anything they want.

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