Sweet ideas for celebrating Valentine’s Day in the workplace

Who says, in these politically correct times, that we can’t celebrate traditional holidays and inject a little fun in the workplace without stepping on hearts? Here’s a list of sweet ideas to mark Valentine’s Day in a way that includes everyone, regardless of their current romantic status, and shows that your company has a caring heart.

Celebrate the individual for the diversity they bring to the group. Nothing says Valentine’s Day like the feeling of being loved, or (in the workplace), the feeling of being seen, known, and appreciated. Assign a staff meeting where people bring in a poster board covered with images of at least five things that are important to them. Then give each person five minutes to explain the board to the group. Beyond the sharing of family photos, hobbies, and pets, encourage folks to post a favorite memory or item or even a goal – whatever speaks to them. There is no formula for the board, or “right” or “best” presentation. Each is to be most celebrated for its uniqueness.

Celebrate commonalities, which leads to more workplace empathy (heart). This is an easy game, best played with small teams. The goal is for each team to find as many commonalities within the group as possible within a three-minute time limit.  The commonalities must apply to each person in the group. These commonalities can’t be obvious ones like, “we all have hair” or “we all are wearing jeans”.  They need to be a bit more creative, like “we have all visited Canada” or “we all fear heights”. You create prizes or declare winners in whatever categories you want – the most number of commonalities, the weirdest commonality, the most revealing commonality, etc.

Go red, but more important, set the goal of a healthy heart. Pair Valentine’s Day with the American Heart Month. Encourage folks to wear red as a token nod, but then make Valentine’s Day a real opportunity for heart-healthy change. How? Set aside time for a volunteer group to brainstorm ways to get healthy in a social setting outside of work hours, by forming a team bowling league, sponsoring a company hike, or even making plans for a spring company softball league. Our company once sponsored a spring “Adult Field Day” with sack lunches and the opportunity to compete in crazy games like paddle-balling and “batting” with a badminton racket. (The outing was a home run with employees.) Any idea is a good idea, from a heart-healthy recipe exchange to inviting in a local chef to show how to make a heart-healthy dish. See if a gym can offer a free group pass or savings to yoga classes! The options to pick from are endless.

Spread the love. Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to get involved with a local charity or to kick-off a fund-raising drive. Hold a month-long penny drive competition with the winning department choosing which charity the coins will go to. Sponsor a food-drive for a local food pantry or encourage employees to bring in school supplies for backpacks designated for needy children. And don’t forget volunteer opportunities – assign points for personal hours donated to area charities with a bonus opportunity for giving in that way. There are lots of ways to celebrate and to share employee talents.

Valentine’s Day isn’t just for sweethearts. It’s cause for celebration, too, in any workplace that values its employees for the talents and gifts they bring to work every day.

About Jody Glynn Patrick

Jody is President of Glynn Patrick & Associates, which provides management consulting, executive coaching and strategic planning services. She is Publisher Emeritus of In Business magazine, which she published for 17 years. Selected as the “U.S. Business Journalist of the Year” in 2007 in Washington, DC, by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Jody has been a business reporter, editor, radio talk show host , and has won other state and national journalism awards. At the same time, she has helped corporate clients grow their businesses -- the basis for her practical coaching advice here. She also was the 2005 Athena Award recipient for her leadership role in mentoring other professional women. Jody will be talking with you weekly on TDS’ blog to share her insights and tips from the C-Suite perspective. Follow on G+.

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