Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Yes, February 14, a day full of candy, cards, and Cupid, oh my! When we think of Valentine’s Day, we usually think of it as a day meant to celebrate romantic love, but it doesn’t have to be. Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate all types of love: love for your family, love for your friends, love for yourself, and, quite possibly, love for your work! Yes, Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity for organizations to show its love and appreciation for its employees and vice versa. Obviously, companies shouldn’t follow in the footsteps of The Office and plan a “Lonely Hearts” party for all single employees to wallow in their potential sadness and discuss their personal romantic dilemmas. Here are some fun and exciting ways for companies to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
1: Create little “love” notes.
This idea can be applied in many ways. Managers can give their employees handwritten notes after a job well done or the achievement of an important goal to convey their appreciation and admiration. Employees can write notes to their managers, detailing aspects they like about their manager or ways in which their manager makes all their employees feel welcome and significant. Work teams can take a few minutes out of their day to congregate together and share what they love about their fellow team members. This would take only a few minutes out of your employees’ days, but the impact on their morale, motivation, and organizational commitment is lasting.
2: Plan an office Valentine’s Day party/office lunch.
If you wanted to go all out, you could start planning for the party a week or so in advance, but extensive preparation is not crucial. HR can ask different departments to bring certain items, like cupcakes, cookies, candy, drinks, and the party can be held in the office kitchen or a large conference room, or even at a separate location after-hours. Create a little “appreciation” box where employees can anonymously write down things they love about the organization and then someone can read the notes aloud. You could also allow employees to give anonymous “shout-outs” where they can celebrate the accomplishments of fellow employees with whom they may or may not work. Set aside a moment where leaders can publicly acknowledge and recognize the great work everyone has been doing. Mix people up so individuals can get to know other people with whom they don’t usually work. Overall, make sure the focus of the party is on inclusion, appreciation, and fun. A party or office lunch provides a great opportunity for employees to engage with one another, celebrate the day, and discuss why they love working for the organization.
3: Give out small gifts or cards.
Handing out small boxes of chocolates or cute Valentine’s Day cards to subordinates is a great way for managers to show their appreciation. However, to avoid emotional conflict, jealousy, or other awkward situations, make sure to hand out gifts or cards to ALL your subordinates. When celebrated in the workplace, Valentine’s Day should be a day of inclusion and celebration of everyone.
4: Remember to effectively manage workplace romances.
Romance at work is bound to happen, so Valentine’s Day is also a great day for companies to revisit their policies on dating in the workplace and continue to create a culture free of harassment. Organizations need to ensure that employees are aware and understand organizational policies that discuss personal relationship between employees. Clearly communicate what is acceptable and unacceptable in this realm, and if dating is allowed, require employees to report consensual relationships so all potentially affected employees are aware and your organization can also defend itself in any possible sexual harassment cases. Valentine’s Day might also give employees the idea of expressing their hidden feelings for a co-worker, which may be unwelcome. Again, in these situations, remind employees that these actions can make their colleagues feel uncomfortable or harassed, watch for signs that indicate uneasiness around certain co-workers, and emphasize what behaviors are acceptable and how to report harassment.
Even though the office is, first and foremost, a place where work needs to get done, that doesn’t mean organizations still can’t have a little fun on days like Valentine’s Day! If you’re looking to celebrate today, implement some of these suggestions into the office or think of your own! Overall, Valentine’s Day can be a day where all employees feel “loved," accepted, and appreciated.
Check out the articles that inspired this work here and here!
Emma Edoga is Graduate Assistant in the Graduate HRD program at Villanova University. She serves as the Co-President for the VUSHRM chapter. Learn more about her here!