April Fools' Day may fall on a weekend this year, but the possibility of workplace pranks is nonetheless something employers and HR managers should be aware of around the April 1 date.
A survey of over 400 managers and employees, conducted by legal compliance company Seyfarth Shaw at Work, found that online and social media-related April Fools' office pranks were the most common in the workplace.
They were followed closely by 'remodeling' of coworkers' office spaces. (Remember when Jim coated Dwight's stapler with Jell-O in The Office?)
Below are some tips from Seyfarth Shaw at Work's president, attorney Philippe Weiss, to help control the risks without killing all the fun.
Do: Resist the urge to prank
A boss or HR representative pranking someone is like offering a complete pranking license to his/her employees.
Do: Establish a system of April 1 "check-ins" around the office
The HR team must be particularly aware of pranks that demean, discriminate or are destructive.
Further, it would be useful for HR or line managers to remind employees to:
- Keep pranks between colleagues friendly as well as safe
- Ask themselves if the recipient of the prank is truly someone receptive to such things, or if they may get bent on taking revenge at a later date
- Remember that social media makes Pranks (and any consequences) immortal
- Never prank customer or visitors to the organisation.
The survey results also revealed that the polled respondents reported online/social media pranks were the most popular office April Fools' pranks (37%), followed by office space remodeling (34%), food-related pranks (16%), and automotive alterations (5%).