Early springtime in the office should be a great thing. The weather is finally warming up a little bit, snow is disappearing from the ground, and thanks to Daylight Savings, you’re actually leaving the office during daylight hours. Yes, the beginning of spring is great – except for one little thing.

April Fool’s Day.

The first of April always brings out the prankster in at least one office worker, and for HR, it means that we must exhibit our  inner Toby Flendersons, much to the chagrin of our resident Jim Halperts. Conservative work environments need to closely monitor and potentially deter any sort of mischief-making in order to keep the organization legally sound (as well as to protect brand reputation in certain industries). Even less traditional offices need to keep an eye on the potential hi-jinks.

However, if your office isn’t in a strictly regulated or conservative industry, a little good-natured workplace humor can be a great thing for company culture and employee morale. There are just a few things to keep in mind to keep everyone safe and smiling:

  • Nothing illegal. Seriously, don’t do it, guys. Every year some office prankster makes the local news for a “hilarious” office prank gone horribly awry. Be upfront with employees that illegal activities will not be tolerated.
  • Nothing dangerous. The same goes for pranks that put someone in harm’s way. Dangerous stunts and pranks can (and most likely) will backfire, injuring an employee, leaving you down a worker, with lower employee morale throughout the team. Additionally, your organization could be liable for litigation. Don’t put yourself in this position; set up some ground rules about what is safe – and what isn’t.
  • Nothing mean-spirited. At the end of the day, an April Fool’s prank is supposed to be light-hearted, a bit of harmless fun. It shouldn’t demoralize, taunt, or degrade a person, especially a person you respect and value, as you do with the members of your workforce. Anything that is malicious and/or motivated by race, gender, creed, orientation, or anything else of the kind should never be tolerated. Not only does it set you up for potential litigation, but it has a horrible effect on your workforce.

By communicating expectations upfront, and appropriately addressing issues should they arise, everyone can get on board and have a little fun this April Fool’s Day. Break out the Jello molds!

April Fool's Day - The Office

While you’re worrying about employees complying with regulations on April Fool’s Day, take a look at how your organization empowers you to manage compliance. Check out how Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems can make it even easier for you to keep everyone on the up-and-up.

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