It’s Carnival Time, But Employers May Not Be Having Fun.


Being an employer in the city of New Orleans is a unique and beautiful thing. You and your employees are surrounded with great food, pieces of history, and an energy that helps your business thrive. But, being an employer in New Orleans also comes with its unique challenges… like how to deal with employees during carnival season.

Let me ask you, have you had to deal with any of these situations during Mardi Gras:

  • Employees are late because they got stuck behind floats on their way to work

  • Someone got the baby in the king cake, but did not buy another king cake and now the office is in king cake turmoil

  • There is a loud argument in the breakroom over if it’s called the neutral ground or the median

  • An employee shows up with an eye injury from being hit with a bead and it is affecting their work

  • Deciding if you should make Lundi Gras a company holiday since half your staff takes off anyway

  • Employees calling in sick or showing up late because they were at a parade the night before

  • Employees showing up to work in their float costume and clearly hungover

  • Employees wanting to leave work early to “get their spot” for a parade or to beat the parade traffic

  • Employees whose commute to or from work gets consistently closed off on parade days

Maybe you’ve experienced one or two of these situations. Or maybe you have a very lively group of employees and have experienced them all. Either way, there are a few things you can do to minimize employee issues during Mardi Gras season.

First, review those attendance and time off policies! The beginning of carnival season is a perfect time to send a friendly reminder to employees reminding them of procedures for if they will be late to work and potential consequences. You may also want to remind them of what days during the Mardi Gras season will be designated holidays and that any other days off should be Vacation/PTO days.

Review your company’s stance and policies on sending employees home and how their pay would be affected. This will come in handy should an employee show up to work in a state where they are unable to adequately perform their job duties (a.k.a. hungover).

If you find you are constantly battling employees being out of the office during carnival season consider adding a floating holiday or two to help mitigate any employee issues.

Here are a few other things for you to consider that may help you as an employer during Mardi Gras:

  • Establish a company Uber/Lyft account for employees to be able to use for late nights and/or to help get to work when their route to work is blocked off

  • Have the employer supply the office king cakes (maybe one from a different bakery each week!) to eliminate any office disgruntling around who has to get the next one

  • Remind employees of any relevant social media policies and ask them to make sure their public posts stay “professional”

  • Some great morale boosters would be to have a company spot for one of the parades with refreshments provided or perhaps raffle off some tickets to one of the bigger Mardi Gras balls

Our final tip: If you can’t beat them, join them. Mardi Gras and carnival season is a time to “laissez bon temps rouler”. Embrace the season and try to be flexible when you can and understand that Mardi Gras is a special time for New Orleanians. Close the office early if you can. Have your own parade at the office. Play the “Mardi Gras Mambo” on repeat on Fridays. The more you are able to work with your employees and embrace the carnival season the easier it will be for you to manage any potential employee issues.

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