Gag Birthday Gifts and Cards in the Workplace

Is it ever appropriate to give gag office birthday cards or gifts at work? That’s a tough question because gag gifts and cards can range from cute and harmless to the truly crass and offensive. Many other things come into play-the workplace setting and culture, the recipient of the card and the relationship between the giver and the recipient. So you will want to give some careful thought to a gag gift or business birthday card.

We live in an age of a corporate culture that is very cognizant of appropriate vs. inappropriate actions. So erring on the side of caution is best. According to HR consultant Ann Fisher, “My first thought is that the gift or card not be offensive to anyone. Anything that makes someone ‘uncomfortable’ could be considered harassment. You also need to be aware of something that could be considered discrimination against race, sex, religion or national origin, etc. Overall, using good taste and being aware of other’s feelings is the best bet.”

Humor can be Appropriate
Birthday card greetings to co-workers and staff certainly can utilize humor. But stick to “safe” topics like joking about the condition of their cubicle, their obsession with certain office supplies and other mild references to the workplace. Staying away from anything too personal is a good idea. Even if you have a friendship with a co-worker that supports a little personal ribbing, remember that other people may also see the card.

So it comes down to using good judgment and being more circumspect than you might be when picking out a card or gift for a pal.