Company Christmas tree breaks the rules
Just because I work in HR doesn’t mean I have to follow all the rules. I prefer guidelines and today’s post is a glimpse into how Johnny Law, the HR deputy tries to keep a light attitude in the office and still keep order.
Holidays should be fun, merry and filled with a lot of great memories. Unfortunately, sometimes the holidays can create stress in the workplace and it is easy to show symptoms of “hangry”. One way that I try to keep the place light in stressful times is to address the “potential” before it becomes stressful.
Take the basic seasonal gesture of putting up a Company Christmas tree. I mean holiday, sorry, I mean Evergreen, actually I am pretty sure it is fake, so metal and plastic tree in the lobby of most businesses. It needs to be plastic so no one is offended we cut down a living tree. There is always an internal debate/hoopla about the political correctness of hosting or not hosting an Ornament Hanger. What it really comes down to is how far across the religious/spiritual spectrum the company is either willing to go. Or, how much political red tape it wants to avoid. In an age where most are losing their faith in humanity, it can be easy to see the glass half full and take the well-intentioned company communication offensively.
Traditional company communication on the Christmas Tree
When it comes to holiday decorations, the courtesy email would read something like:
As the holidays approach, just a friendly reminder that we would like to be sensitive to all religions, and beliefs, and non-believers. With this in mind, please refrain from decorating your cube, desk or department. As much as the company appreciates the gesture, please do not volunteer to bring in a Christmas Tree to decorate the front lobby. Being a diverse company, we have customers and employees from all backgrounds and want to be sensitive to their beliefs.
We know that our vendors like to show their appreciation during this time, so we will be sending an email to all of our vendors stating that employees are not allowed to receive gifts of value in excess of $5.00. If you do receive a gift in excess of $5.00, please notify HR.
I came, I fought, I conquered
Please don’t think I am making this up. I am not. Yes, I have received a company email stating the paltry amount of $5.01 as too excessive at a prior company. (I worked in the regulated finance industry) After 10 years of corporate brainwashing, I left the Fortune 100 employer. I met a potential commercial real estate broker who gave me 4 box seats to a Mariners game. I felt SO guilty about it, I literally asked him “Can I take these?”. He looked at me a little funny. I realized why I quit corporate and:
- Snatched em’ up
- Attended with glove in hand
- Had a great time
We later did a 90K sq foot real estate deal and to this day, that broker and I are great personal friends. I conquered the brainwashing and yes, that bribe shit works people.
Basket of Sex
At a past tech company, we had a porn vendor and the gift basket wasn’t filled with cookies. It was filled with sex toys. Those aren’t visions of sugar plums running through your head, are they? We probably should have, but no, we didn’t send it back. (that would have been rude)
I work in Tech now, so here is what that email looks like in our office. Anything in parenthesis represents my personal thoughts and not included in the actual email to the employees.
Thank you, everyone, for the contributions over the year which allowed us to donate $XX,000.00 to the Named Charity. This is a REALLY impressive effort for a company of ANY size, but especially our tribe of 75. We should be proud of the assistance that we were able to provide and the differences we are making in the local community.
To continue the theme and Acme Publishing’s yearly tradition of philanthropy, we are going to have a Christmas tree/Ornament Hanger/Giving Tree in the front lobby. This Ornament Hanger will be of no particular religion, age, gender, spirituality or sexual orientation. It will be of the Evergreen variety so we apologize for not representing the deciduous varietals. We are asking those that are inclined to bring in a single ornament of your choice to help us decorate the Ornament Hanger (which we will return to you after January 1). EG. I will probably bring in an ornament that is fly fishing related as I have never been to Disneyland like so many of us.Not a competition
On this Ornament Hanger of no particular religion, gender, age, spirituality, or sexual orientation, we will have the tags that the Named Charity dropped off. Each of these tags will present itself to you with the opportunity to make a young person’s End of December a little more memorable. This is a strictly voluntary and we are not collecting employee names or comparing results (seriously). THIS IS NOT A COMPETITION and the two Friend-0’s know who I am talking to. We have a total of 30 tags so work in teams, singles or departments to make a young person’s (OR MORE) wish come true.
If you have extra lights, strings of popcorn, King Kong or GI Joe with Kung Fu Grip figurine as a tree topper, that would be appreciated. Of course, Barbie, Minnie Mouse or Seven of Nine (in the Star Trek vs. Star Wars debate, per this post, Star Trek rules) figurines are welcome as well. If not, a star, angel, or a deer with a red nose would probably work in a pinch. We only have a few requests:
- Per building management, we hold off on candles to avoid the liability of burning the place down.
- At the request of the cleaning service, we hold off on flock (of any color) because it is messy and hard to vacuum out of the carpets
- Per HR, do not feel pressured to participate. We are turning off the surveillance cameras in the front lobby so your participation or lack of will not be recorded.
- Per the Charity that will remain nameless, please do not wrap the gifts. This ensures the children’s safety.
- On my request, no food items. The food drive was last month.
If you see any opportunities for improvement and have suggestions, I will be on vacation through the end of the month avoiding the stressed drivers commuting to work and screaming kids who want, want, want. Remember that this is the season of giving and that includes “for-giving”. We live in the tech hub of the world and any problems we are encountering (outside of our families health) are First World Problems. In other words, we should be grateful.
On behalf of the Named Charity, we thank you.
If you want to avoid the debate in your company, call it a Giving Tree, ask the employees to share in the decorations, bring in a local charity and provide business reasons for any “do not do this…” statements. Not even The Evil HR, we lost faith in humanity, police will stop employees from giving presents to those who have fallen on hard times.
See you at the after party and Stay Merry Bitches!
nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.