I am pleased to share my latest blog post for SHRM regarding Valentine’s Day in the workplace.
Every year, I write a blog on Valentine’s Day on the risk of infusing Valentine’s Day into the workplace. This is not the same blog, and it is not what you may expect.
We all know that the initial purpose of Valentine’s Day was for individuals to express their love to those whom they love in a non-platonic way. I was tempted to say romantic, but I once had a manager deny there was any romantic relationship because “it was only sex.”
Over time, however, the meaning of Valentine’s Day has changed. Just look at cards to parents, grandparents, kids, etc. I refuse to accept the premise that the greeting card industry is encouraging societal incest.
Many employees acknowledge the day too by simply saying “have a nice Valentine’s Day.” I don’t think they mean: “I want you here and now.”
And, some managers will bring in Valentine’s candy or other treats. I don’t think they have any sexual motive (I say, hopefully).
So, I am not sure it is reasonable to say Valentine’s Day has no place in the workplace But here are 7 guard rails to consider as we approach Valentine’s Day:
- Okay to say Happy Valentine’s Day. I would avoid happy V.D.
- Better to say Happy Valentine’s Day to a group than an individual. Don’t want anyone to feel singled out.
- Managers should be more careful if, when and how. Perhaps respond only but don’t initiate.
- Managers should never said a card to a subordinate over whom they have direct or indirect authority. Most certainly the card should not include an audio of Olivia Newton-John—I Honestly Love You (1974).
- Never ask anyone who their Valentine is or whether they have one, unless you want to be a defendant.
- Any food you might bring in can be shared without fanfare. Don’t need to say anything. The food will speak for itself.
- Remember, not everyone has a “Valentine” in the traditional sense. While not having an intimate partner is not a “protected group,” such individuals are human beings who matter. So let’s not avoid anything that may make anyone uncomfortable, but let’s consider how people feel in how we share what may be a common bond to most.
With no sexual, romantic or other prurient intent or thoughts, Happy Valentine’s Day to all!