Thursday 28 May, 2020

Career Corner: Valentine’s Day and the office

It feels as though we’ve only just “recovered” from the festivities of Christmas and the New Year holidays. For some, January felt like a particularly long month, and again we are moving towards another celebratory event…Valentine’s Day.

For some, fortunately or unfortunately, Valentine’s Day 2018 will fall on a Public Holiday – for some this means being spared the excitement of gift giving at the office, while for others it means not being able to display and parade gifts received from significant others. Quite possibly however, flowers and other surprises will still make it to several offices either before or after February 14th. For those who celebrate Valentine’s Day, it is a special day - like all other special days however, there are some guiding principles about how we should celebrate this season of love within a professional capacity…listed below are just a few of these guidelines:

Gift Giving: often times the gentlemen in the department decide to buy gifts (e.g. flowers, chocolate, cookies) for their female coworkers. This is a welcomed gesture- remember though that if you choose to give gifts, you should give a gift to all the ladies in your department, and not just a few. Giving a gift to some colleagues and neglecting others can lead to ill feeling and affect the work relationship going forward. This is easily avoidable. When it comes to this kind of gift giving… it’s all or none.

Gift Giving Goes Both Ways: although Valentine’s Day is traditionally accepted as a holiday for ladies, if you are so inclined, there is nothing wrong with giving gifts to your male coworkers …if you choose to do so however, the same gift giving principle applies to ladies…give gifts to all the gentlemen on your team- don’t give gifts to some while ignoring others.

Cut the Expense: if you are giving gifts at work, remember the gifts should be inexpensive and appropriate for the office. Elaborate, personalized gifts have no place in the workplace.

Be Discreet: although it is nice to have received gifts for Valentine’s Day- be discreet in sharing the details of your personal life at the office. Although love may be in the air, the office is not the place to demonstrate and discuss it.

Communicate: if your significant other wants to send you a gift during the week, let him/ her know what kind of gift is acceptable for your work environment. Some workplaces may be ok with large bouquets and boxes of candy, while for others this may be frowned upon. Let your partner know what is acceptable- remember that if office etiquette is violated, you will be the person facing the negative repercussions after.

As we approach Valentine’s Day, this is a good opportunity to work on fostering good relationships with your coworkers. This time can be used as an opportunity to spread good will amongst the team and to celebrate your colleagues …express appreciation for work they have done, and give compliments on projects successfully executed. If you haven’t yet spread love in the office all year…now is a very good time to do so!

Malaika T. Edwards is a Human Resources consultant and provides advisory services to individuals and business clients. She is also a PhD scholar at the Louisiana State University (LSU) where she specializes in Human Resources and Workforce Development. You can contact her at, or on LinkedIn at




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