How to Handle Valentine's Day in the Workplace

Valentine's Day in the Workplace Can Be Fun or Uncomfortable

Here are steps you can take to make this Valentine's Day a success at your business.

Of all the holidays, Valentine's Day in the workplace may be the most awkward. Should you celebrate or not? If so, how? What can you do to ensure that no one ends up feeling uncomfortable? After all, Valentine's Day is a celebration of love. And love, especially love in the office, isn't always pretty.

This Valentine's Day, celebrate by shifting the holiday's focus from romance to appreciation and community engagement. Leverage the holiday to bolster team bonding, whether that's through employee recognition or charitable action.

Here are steps you can take to make this Valentine's Day a success at your business.

Make it Fun

  • Create a party atmosphere: A couple of days before Valentine's Day, enlist volunteers to decorate. Allocate a budget for decorations like balloons, streamers and banners.
  • Host a "red" breakfast or lunch: Everyone loves a free meal. This Valentine's Day, provide your staff with holiday-themed desserts like red velvet cupcakes, red delicious apples and red grapes. Make the breakfast or lunch event a company-wide initiative to help foster inclusivity. That way everyone can enjoy. Mealtime is a great opportunity for bonding, and the more people bond, the more productively they'll work together.
  • Play valentine-themed charades: Build teams at random to act out Valentine's Day-related movie or song titles. Provide a nice prize like movie passes or a cafe gift card for the winners.
  • Send thank you emails: Send communications to your workforce acknowledging their contributions. Find something each employee has done especially well and thank them for it. Send emails out at the end of the day before Valentine's Day so people can be greeted with a nice note when they first log on in the morning.

Make it Edifying

Celebrate Valentine's Day in the workplace by focusing on the actual heart. Invite your local American Heart Association or Red Cross to give a talk on heart health. Provide some heart-healthy snacks and drinks and then invite volunteers to become certified in CPR or first aid.

Make it Comfortable

Even if you don't know about it, you may have people dating in your ranks. A 2017 CareerBuilder Valentine's Day survey revealed that 41 percent of respondents have dated a coworker, with 38 percent keeping their romances quiet.

On Valentine's Day, couples and those comfortable with flirting may engage in more PDAs — public displays of affection — than usual, which in turn can make other employees uncomfortable. Rein them in by having a solid employee dating policy in place and properly communicated. The policy should prohibit employee from engaging in inappropriate conduct in the workplace, or at company events and include provisions on how and when employees must report consensual relationships.

You may also have someone who decides that Valentine's Day is the perfect opportunity to confess their crush on a coworker. But unwelcome compliments, gifts, touches and the like will only make everyone uncomfortable — not only the recipient of the uninvited PDA and the unrequited admirer, but everyone else forced to witness the exchange. To keep Valentine's Day deeds from turning into sexual harassment suits, ensure that you not only have an effective sexual harassment policy in place that expressly prohibits inappropriate physical and verbal conduct, and includes multiple complaint avenues for victims and witnesses. Ensure the policy is communicated to all employees and that they receive the appropriate training.

So are you going to celebrate Valentine's Day? Remember that you don't have to. But if you do, encourage participation, help employees bond in appropriate and productive ways and make the day one to remember for the right reasons.