As it does every year, February 14th is upon us, inspiring millions of people in relationships to pay way (WAY) too much for flowers and candy, and reminding all the single people out there that a) they are lucky not to have to buy overpriced flowers or b) that they are so very, very alone. But what about work? We’ve all been hearing about how important workplace culture is, so what are some fun, work-appropriate Valentine’s Day celebration ideas? I’ve asked around and have come up with the following list.

NOTHING. There is absolutely no reason, whatsoever, to celebrate Valentine’s Day at the office. Only bad things can happen. Terrible things. It’s not a real holiday anyway.

I mean, think about it. There are a million arguments against workplace Valentine’s Day celebrations, and only two legitimate ones in its favor. Let’s talk about the biggest cons first:

a)    Your office is, presumably, populated with grown-ups. Grown-ups either have significant others to participate in or ignore Valentine’s day with or if they don’t they almost certainly don’t choose their co-workers as a substitute. It’s like taking your cousin to prom.

b)    You likely have at least one unrequited crush in your office and possibly a covert relationship going on. Let’s not make it more painful and awkward than it already is.

c)     Fake and forced ‘gatherings’, especially centered around a fake holiday, will do nothing to build the camaraderie you probably think it will and really just waste people’s time.

d)    Your HR people do their level best all year round to keep things professional so to purposefully bring a holiday that is centered around ROMANCE into the OFFICE makes no sense.

e)     It’s not a real holiday!!!

So, that being said, there are two legitimate reasons to want to celebrate Valentine’s Day in the office. This by no means makes it a good idea, but they are compelling.

The first is wanting to have a fun, relaxed culture where co-workers can spend some time getting to know each other to strengthen the team. In all seriousness, this is the driving force behind most of the work/social occasions. This is an excellent goal, and a collaborative and creative cultue centered around a strong team should be one of the main focuses of a leader. But Valentine’s Day celebrations, ice cream socials, or other ‘fun’ or fluffy events will not achieve this for you if you don’t have a strong and efficient team already. Think of all the events like the frosting, and a profitable company with effective systems is the cake. In order for people to even want to spend time together on the social activities, you need trust, respect, and the ability to execute well. Without the trust and respect that comes from knowing how everyone’s job fits together into the greater whole, your Valentine’s Day celebration will be met with rolled eyes at best.

The second legitimate reason? Free cupcakes, of course! Nothing bad will ever come from having free cupcakes, so feel free to distribute at will (although you should make sure to have sugar-free, gluten-free, nut-free alternatives available of course).

So happy…day…let’s just leave it that!

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Carrie Maldonado is the founder of Today’s Leadership Solutions, a Seattle-based consulting firm providing comprehensive organizational development solutions for companies who are growing and who truly value their people.  With certified Executive Coaches, Organizational Behavior Management (OBM) practitioners, SPHR-certified HR professionals, and Organizational Development Specialists, Carrie’s team brings a unique perspective and a cross-functional approach to providing workplace solutions that work.  Carrie can be reached for consultation at carrie@todaysleadershipsolutions.com

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