Life of the 'Office' Party

Managers’ Most Embarrassing Holiday Party Gaffes Revealed

Toronto, ON – Falling into a pool, sleeping under a table, fighting with the boss and throwing food – scenes from a rough weekend or a corporate event? Unfortunately, for those involved, it’s the latter. A recent Robert Half survey of financial executives found these were just a few of managers’ worst moments at holiday parties.

CFOs were asked about the most embarrassing thing they have seen or heard about a manager doing at a company holiday party. They reported bosses have:

  • Packed leftovers from the dinner spread…before anyone has eaten
  • Broken an ankle while breakdancing
  • Opened someone else’s gift
  • Thrown food
  • Slept under a table
  • Tried walking across a swimming pool and – not surprisingly – fell into it
  • Used obscene language
  • Taken inappropriate pictures in a photo booth
  • Fought with a boss
  • Announced a resignation

View a slideshow featuring some of the most embarrassing moments for managers at holiday parties.

Poor etiquette also was a common theme. Survey respondents noted managers have:

  • Sat in a corner without interacting with anyone
  • Left within 10 minutes
  • Didn’t show up
  • Discussed confidential company information

“Year-end holiday parties are a great way for companies to show their appreciation, and celebrate their team’s achievements collectively,” said Greg Scileppi, president of Robert Half, International Staffing Operations. “While these events encourage employee engagement and comradery, embarrassing stories from the evening tend to live-on around the watercooler, and can have longer-term career implications as word spreads.” 

Managers should leverage these occasions as opportunities to highlight their leadership skills, and not let a night’s actions precede them, added Scileppi. “Although bosses may see holiday parties as the perfect time to get to know their staff more casually, it’s important that they maintain a professional demeanour to ensure they uphold the respect of their employees, colleagues and potentially clients.” 

Robert Half highlights what managers need to remember about holiday parties:

  • You’re at work. Show your lighter side, but remember you’re still the boss. Focus on being a gracious host. Employees will look to you as an example even outside of the office.
  • Don’t be a barfly. Never overindulge on the alcohol. Many of the mishaps CFOs witnessed came after someone had too much to drink.
  • Loose lips sink ships. It’s never appropriate to reveal confidential information about your company or coworkers. If you’re worried about not having enough to talk about, come up with a list of safe topics – weekend plans, movie reviews, food – before the event.
  • This is a good career opportunity. You may have the chance to speak with executives and others with whom you don’t normally interact. Have fun at the party, but keep in mind it’s also a time for you to expand your internal network and build visibility.
  • Keep the focus on staff. Celebrate your team, and give them their moment. By ceding the spotlight, you’ll show how much you appreciate their contributions.
  • You need to go back to work the next day. A tabletop nap, alcohol-powered soliloquy or inappropriate dance moves may feel like one-time blunders, but you’ll need to face everyone as soon as you’re back in the office. In other words, “don’t be that guy – or girl” that everyone is gossiping about the next morning.

About the Research

The survey was developed by Robert Half and conducted by an independent research firm. It is based on telephone interviews with more than 270 CFOs from a stratified random sample of companies in Canada.

About Robert Half
Founded in 1948, Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm. The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company has more than 325 staffing locations worldwide and offers online job search and management tools at For career and management advice, follow our blog at Follow Robert Half Canada on Twitter at @RobertHalf_CAN for additional workplace advice and hiring trends.


For further information contact: Naz Araghian, (416) 865-2140, [email protected]  

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