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The Dos and Don'ts of Valentine's Day in the Workplace

By Jeanette Coleman, SPHR & SHRM-SCP on Jan 27, 2023
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The Dos and Don'ts of Valentine's Day in the Workplace

Love it or hate it, the most romantic day of the year is almost here. This year, over half of Americans plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day, showing their love or affection for that special someone with red roses, expensive chocolates, balloon bouquets, Hallmark cards and extravagant gifts.

Just how much will Americans spend on their Valentine's this year? New consumer surveys found Americans plan to spend about $2 billion more this year, compared to last, bringing the total amount to about $26 billion

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Dating a Coworker is on the Rise

Valentine’s Day can be tricky to navigate at the office, and even more so if your Valentine is also your coworker, which new data from 2022 indicates could definitely be the case.

According to a LiveCareer poll, 75% of respondents have had a romantic relationship with a coworker. What's more, employers may not be aware of this growing trend. A SHRM survey found 77% of employees in workplace romances never disclose the relationship to their employers.

dating in the workplace today's office fling may be tomorrow's court case

Should Valentine's Day Spill into the Workplace?

With office romances on the rise and that much money being spent on chocolates, cards and flowers, love will definitely be in the air. But what about in the workplace? Should Cupid be allowed to bring romance front and center on Valentine's Day?

Generally speaking, no. Romance in the workplace can get awkward real quick. For example, is a singing telegram delivered to your Valentine at work really the best way to say “I love you” or are there better, more appropriate ways?

Check out this list of Valentine’s Day dos and don’ts to be sure you’re following proper Valentine’s Day office etiquette. 

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The Don’ts of Valentine’s Day at Work

Whether you work with your Valentine or you think you'll make his or her day with an elaborate display, you'll want to avoid these don’ts to help prevent embarrassment, awkwardness and office gossip.

1. Don’t Flirt with Coworkers 

You may think Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to profess your love to that special coworker you’ve been crushing on for months. However, just because it’s Valentine’s Day doesn’t change the rules for what’s considered appropriate at work. Flirting with Susan or Bob two cubicles over this Valentine’s Day may make him/her more uncomfortable than you imagined. 

2. Don’t Engage in Public Displays of Affection or Elaborate Gift Giving

If you’re in a relationship with a coworker, Valentine’s Day doesn’t make it okay to engage in public displays of affection. If you’re planning on exchanging gifts, discuss it ahead of time and make a plan to do it after the workday or on your lunch break.

By staying professional and keeping your romantic life outside of the workplace, your coworkers will feel more relaxed around you.

3. Don’t Brag

Did your Valentine give you the most amazing gift? Whether you received a stunning piece of jewelry or had a killer flower arrangement delivered to your office, making rounds to show it off to everyone might make others feel downright sad.

Whether your coworker's significant other chose to “skip” Valentine’s Day this year, or they didn’t have a Valentine this year, being boastful may be hurtful.

4. Don’t Let Your Anti-Valentine’s Day Attitude Rule

So, you don’t love Valentine’s Day. You’re not alone. But being the Negative Nancy of the day and taking away from your team members’ happiness isn’t the best path to go down. 

Valentines Day Infographic (Twitter Post)

The Dos of Valentine’s Day at Work

Just because there are a few etiquette rules, doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate Valentine’s Day if it falls on a workday. Here are a few dos to keep you on the right track.

1. Keep Your Personal Life Personal

The best plan of action is to keep your romance in your personal, not professional life. It’s easy to bring your personal details into the workplace — you spend the majority of your days there and have probably built work friendships with coworkers.

But once introduced and discussed, it can become a distraction, take up your time and your coworkers’, and become, you guessed it, a source of office gossip.

2. Moderation Is Key

If you can’t wait until after the workday and you know the most important thing to your Valentine is receiving a public declaration of your love and admiration, then it’s best to go with a small- to moderate-sized gift.

A tasteful flower arrangement or a box of chocolates is great, but a balloon bouquet large enough to obstruct vision or a life-sized teddy bear with no place to sit will just make a scene.

3. Meet Your Date Outside of the Office Building

If you know your Valentine’s Day plans consist of an evening out, but for the sake of time, you can’t make it home before your reservation and your date will be picking you up at work, think about meeting outdoors. Not only will this prevent office gossip, but it also helps avoid any uncomfortable PDA situations in front of your coworkers or boss.

4. Celebrate with Coworkers in a Professional Way

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to only be about romantic love. You can “love” your job, “love” your friends and even “love” your coworkers. To show your team you’re feeling festive and want to celebrate in a positive, professional way, bring in cookies or chocolates to share.

As long as the treats are for the whole team and not a few select individuals, it is a great way to celebrate. Think about grade school Valentine’s Day parties — that’s about where you want to be. Everyone who wants a treat can have one, no one is excluded, everything is appropriate and there are only positive vibes.

RELATED: How to Work with People You Don't Like >>

HR Expertise You Can Use

While Valentine’s Day at the office can be awkward, it doesn’t have to be. Some forethought and etiquette can go a long way in ensuring no one gets too carried away. 

Axcet HR Solutions has been providing HR expertise to owners of small and mid-sized businesses since 1988. From employee benefits, payroll and risk management to employee relations and HR compliance, business owners who partner with Axcet gain access to a team of highly credentialed HR experts. Meet our team today >>

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