Human Resources



The art of giving out red envelopes

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As a Chinese New Year’s tradition, many companies, managers and married people will give out red envelopes (lai see) to colleagues during the working days after the holiday, in order to share blessings and build relationship.

As lai see usually contains a certain amount of money, many people will rack their brains to gain/save money as much as possible.

A recent blog post on Heawork shared the office phenomenon during Chinese New Year.

  • managers casually give out lai see from the company as if it was from himself/herself;
  • young married colleagues ask single female managers for lai see;
  • shameless colleagues ask for lai see again and again;
  • unfamiliar colleagues come in flocks to ask for lai see;
  • married colleagues pretend to be single to ask for lai see;
  • married colleague take leave during Chinese New Year to avoid giving out lai see;
  • givers limit the quantity of lai see to 10 notes per day on a first-come-first-served basis;
  • colleagues who give out a single-note lai see with $10 are being talked about behind their back.

To give or not to give, that is the question. Facing the dilemma, some working mothers came up with and shared some solutions on the online forum Baby Kingdom.

  • only give a single $20 note to familiar colleagues from the same team;
  • use beautifully designed red envelopes to divert attention;
  • keep the remaining lai see and reuse them in the next year.

The original intent of giving out lai see is to wish someone prosperity and good luck for the coming year. After all, it’s once a year. To avoid tarnishing office harmony, givers shouldn’t be too penny-pinching, while recipients should also be self-disciplined.

Photo/ 123RF 

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