office traditions

Office Traditions: Where to Draw a Line?

In Japan, there is a Valentine’s day tradition for the women workforce to hand their male counterparts, chocolates. This tradition was started in the mid 1950s, growing into a multimillion-dollar market that provides some manufacturers with a sizeable chunk of their annual sales in just a few days, The Guardian Reports.

As the years have gone by, Giro Chocolates or Obligation chocolates have become a nuisance in the workplace, where some companies have banned the tradition altogether. Every company has certain innate traditions that they follow, whether it is after work, Friday parties, or something as simple as calling someone sir or ma’am to convey respect.

It is the traditions and culture that build the company the way it is. It creates an atmosphere of bon homie if it is happening in a constructive way but as seen with the case of Giro Chocolates, these traditions can soon turn into obligation for the employee. And the money spent on continuing these traditions also creates a hassle for the employee.

A simpler example is parties in smaller companies which irrespective of the positions, everyone has to participate in and sometimes can create issues for the employee with lesser financial backing.

Companies should be mindful of what traditions to uphold and what traditions can be let go, as the company grows in size and employees. The onus is also on the employees to understand the difference in someone willingly taking part in an office custom and someone doing so under duress.

It is all about creating a culture of friendliness that doesn’t hamper the professional relationship of employees. A very fine balance to strike.

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