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​Banning birthday cakes in the office… a step too far?

  • Publish Date: Posted 12 months ago
  • Author:by MERJE

Offices are working environments, but equally they’re places where people spend the majority of their days. As teams get more comfortable and friendly, casual habits will creep in and soon you’ll be eating cake every day of the week for a different celebration.

But is that such a bad thing? After all, having a happy workforce benefits the business on the whole, as people tend to be more engaged, motivated and productive.

Some of the more light-hearted office traditions we’ve come to know and love have almost felt the effects of cancel culture in recent times, and with a French high court recently decreeing that businesses cannot force their employees to participate in ‘supposedly’ enjoyable activities, we’re asking, where should you draw the line?

While we wholeheartedly agree that people shouldn't be forced to participate in ‘fun’ shenanigans, surely certain office activities are key to a warm and welcoming company culture?

Sweet Escape

A hot topic in recent times: should birthday cake be banned in the office?

Many a news article reported of a growing sentiment that bringing sweet treats to the workplace should be banned to avoid tempting colleagues, but many disagreed, declaring that people are responsible for their own health and everyone else shouldn’t have to miss out.

Bringing treats into the office comes from a place of generosity and kindness and is an important bonding experience between colleagues, so we’re certainly not convinced that it should be restricted. But we do agree that workplaces should offer supportive environments for all colleagues and every office is different, so should make decisions based on their own teams.

Swear jars all round

Of course, there is a time and a place for dropping an Anglo-Saxon bomb, and after a recent employment tribunal ruled that swearing at work is no longer a big deal, it seems that more offices are relaxing the linguistic rules.

Every employer wants to balance standards of professionalism with employee comfort in the workplace, so again it will be down to each business to decide. If you feel strongly about such language, you could set up a jar so that curses can go towards charitable causes.

What other common workplace activities could face the chop?

Drinking Culture

Team socials and after-work drinks provide a way for employees to blow off steam, let their hair down, and bond with colleagues in a more personal setting. But should these out-of-work activities become less alcohol-focused?

Drinkaware recently reported that one in four 16-24 year-olds are fully tee-total, so with more and more people choosing the alcohol-free lifestyle, not to mention the many individuals who don’t drink for religious reasons, it may be time to rethink the boozy celebrations.

Office Gossip

While tantalising titbits can be hard to resist, rumours and whispering can result in alienated colleagues and awkward working environments. Should more rules come into place to derail the gossip wagon?

Secret Santa

Overall, a MERJE favourite, but there have been a few instances of getting the same gift every year or not getting a gift at all because your Secret Santa was away on the day of the exchange.

As well as this, it can pose a tough challenge for colleagues from different departments/offices who don’t really know each other, and the spending limit can be a contentious topic too.

On the other hand, are some people expecting too much of what is supposed to be a light-hearted bit of fun? Bringing a little festive joy shouldn’t be such a divisive thing, but if it truly is causing a negative atmosphere, it could be time to give it the boot.

What do you think? Are there any office habits or unspoken rules that you think should be left in the past?

If you’d like to discuss this or any of the topics covered in our other articles, please get in touch.