Valentine’s Day: Do’s & Don’ts In the Workplace

As I’m sure you all know, today is Valentine’s Day. As a Human Resource company, HR Strategies wants to make sure you know what you should and shouldn’t be doing in the workplace today. Valentine’s Day may seem like the perfect time to let that certain co-worker know how you feel about them; but could you end up in a courtroom instead of a fancy restaurant? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. While this may sound harsh, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), in 2011 there were 11,364 charges filed alleging sexual harassment in the workplace. With strict discrimination laws and sexual harassment charges being so prevalent in today’s society, this article may save you a lot of time, money, and stress.

HR Strategies Valentine’s Day Workplace “Do’s”, “Don’ts” & “Cautions”:

  1. Valentine’s Gifts:
    • DO: Bring baked goods, chocolates, or any other treats for the office as a whole.
    • DON’T: Single anyone out with just one gift.
    • Explanation:  If you bring goodies for everyone, no one is singled out, and no one can point any fingers at you for discrimination or unwanted gifts. Leave any treats in a common area. As Valentine’s Day always implies romance, any gift given to just one person may be misconstrued as an unwanted sexual advance. If you want to do something nice, make sure to include everyone.
  2. Valentine’s Cards:
    • DO: Verbally remind co-workers of their workplace talents and hard work.
    • DON’T: Send naughty or suggestive cards or emails—ever. Some experts say don’t send any cards at all.
    • Explanation: Those emails and cards might be funny to you, but not everyone may have your sense of humor. What you consider amusing might be offensive to one of your co-workers. Some professionals say that unlike candy, cards should never be shared in the workplace even if you have one for everyone. The harassment laws are just too strict to risk it.
  3. Wishing Colleagues “Happy Valentine’s Day:
    • CAUTION: Even though wishing colleagues a “Happy Valentine’s Day” may seem like a harmless gesture, you must remember that unlike Christmas, Independence Day, or Halloween; Valentine’s Day is often a holiday seen as being specifically about romance and love. Wishing someone a “Happy Valentine’s Day”, especially if that person is a subordinate, can yet again be misconstrued as a gesture of love or affection. With approximately 40 sexual harassment claims per workday in 2011, exercise caution in wishing your colleagues a friendly “Happy Valentine’s Day”; but do be sure to remember to say “Happy Valentine’s Day” to your spouses and close friends outside of the workplace!

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About HR Strategies

HR Strategies is a private human resource management firm created to enable small business owners to focus on their core competencies, rather than the tedium of running payroll, providing employee benefits, or the many other facets of human resource administration. We allow business owners to concentrate on their passion, without being distracted by countless human resource responsibilities.

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