Does Valentines Day have to be a headache for HR?

How should you ensure that your policies and your staff are respected on a day of love.

Simon Dalley: BrightHR Brand Marketing Manager

it’s important that HR managers and business owners consider the potential implications. Everyone in personnel management is going to want to make sure Valentine’s Day is a fun day for all the workforce, however many people working with employees will be concerned there’s a potential for it to go too far. Going too far could see situations where inappropriate, sexually orientated conversations, gifts etc might take place.

The interesting thing about HR as I see it (and I write this from the perspective of someone who works in marketing) is you can take two routes, you can either trust your team to make the right decisions and accept that occasionally they won’t, or you can legislate against their actions. At BrightHR we plug for the former, we trust our team not to act inappropriately, communicating potential pitfalls around activity at various times of the year. We do accept this won’t always work and we do have robust HR policies to back things up.

Valentine’s Day 2016 is a Sunday and although this means there will be less Valentine’s Day activity taking place in the office you still need to be conscious that there may be one or two sore heads on Monday morning - how nice would it be if you let people start at 10am on Monday 15th February?

Valentine’s Day and equal employment opportunity policies

Although many HR professionals will be scurrying about reviewing their equal employment opportunity policy at this point, perhaps now is a good time to communicate with the team and let them gently know what’s expected of them, whilst giving them every opportunity to celebrate the Valentine’s period.

Many HR teams will get the opportunity to test their EEO policy at this time of year, however hopefully this won’t be the case for most businesses!

Dating’s going to happen

Dating is going to happen in the workplace, it shouldn’t be too big a deal with certain exceptions such as managers dating subordinates — but even this can be handled. The key thing is empowering your team so they’re prepared to provide full disclosure. Most companies will have policies in place to prevent dating, and this is probably a good call from a legal perspective however I think we need to accept the realities of modern life. If it’s going to happen, it will do, and prohibiting relationships will probably only make them more likely, whilst it will almost certainly make them more secretive — and who wants their employees to keep secrets from them?

You won’t for one second hear me telling you that social media is dangerous to a business; I spend so much time on there as a marketer and really believe in the benefits of the potential growth benefits of a having a company’s workforce fully engaged and actively promoting the business socially. However, when people fall out these days (and there’s always a chance for it to happen around Valentine’s Day), social media has the potential for things to get totally blown out of proportion. So whether you’ve got a rock solid social media policy that scares the bejeebers out of your employees, or whether it’s a bit more of a lax affair, it’s still better to gently communicate with your team about the potential for problems around this time of year, detailing what is and isn’t acceptable.

So as Valentine’s Day rapidly approaches, it’s probably time to dust off your equal employment opportunities policy, but once you’ve put your mind at rest, I’d suggest the best policy is to put it away again. After this you can get on with properly communicating with your team, outlining expectations and obligations, so when the big day arrives you can ensure Valentine’s Day is all about the love and not about stress.