One has to look no further than the #MeToo campaign to realize we’re amidst a global shift. While top-notch firms have always been proactive in weeding out and preventing sexual harassment issues, it was often something done in the background versus a very public no-tolerance display.
However, this #Me Too campaign has brought sexual harassment to the forefront of our collective minds and has shown that employees don’t merely want these matters seen to; they expect no-tolerance policies to be very visible and part of a company’s culture.
The immediate concern with Valentine’s Day is that it opens up opportunity for sexual harassment claims. In some cases, these claims may be valid, particularly if a gift or card has any kind of sexual connotation. Even if given as a joke or in a friendly manner, a true no-tolerance policy would require that the employee giving the gift face disciplinary action. In order to avoid any potential misunderstandings or outright violations of the policy, Valentine’s Day celebrations should be eliminated from the office.
Obviously, not every Valentine’s card has sexual undertones. Valentine’s Day is celebrated in elementary schools across the country without issue. Kids exchange candy and silly greetings with their classmates and treat the holiday as a friendship-based celebration. However, this doesn’t translate well in the office, particularly now with the #MeToo Campaign and because it’s the polar opposite of the professional environment employers strive to create.
In some cases, Valentine’s Day has the potential to exclude certain employees. Those who don’t observe the holiday for religious or personal reasons as well as those who wish to participate but don’t receive anything will naturally feel left out. This type of division creates a hostile work environment for everyone. At the same time, those hoping to do something equitably and include all staff members will blur the lines, particularly if things are being exchanged between management staff and employees. In light of the #MeToo campaign, whether accurate or not, feelings of favoritism and sexual harassment can often arise. Moreover, it also changes the dynamics of the relationships between leaders and staff with far-reaching consequences.
While productivity gets a boost when morale is up, exchanges and celebrations may actually lead to decreased morale, particularly among those who feel left out or who don’t have a significant other to share the holiday with. In addition to this, the time taken away by exchanges, and even deliveries of gifts from external sources, decreases productivity.
Be honest about why it’s being banned. Send out a notice in advance outlining the reasons why your company has made the decision to ban the holiday.
Be clear about the expectations and consequences. When employees understand the logic, as well as the direct consequences of failing to follow a directive, they’re more likely to follow it.
Offer an alternative. For example, National Employee Appreciation Day is observed the first Friday in March. Your office may choose to celebrate this or another holiday instead.
Whether your company needs help establishing employee policies or wants to assemble a top-notch team of professionals, the HR Source is here to support your needs. To learn more about the services we offer or to schedule a consultation, contact us today.
Comments are closed.