April Fools' pranks have no place at work: Survey

But well-intentioned humour can have a positive impact on the office

Employees should rethink any plans they have to pull off an April Fools’ joke at work.

More than one-half (58 per cent) of Canadian executives consider April Fools’ pranks unsuitable for the office.

The survey, developed by staffing firm The Creative Group, asked 250 marketing and advertising executives, “How appropriate do you think it is to play April Fools’ jokes in the office?”

Only four per cent thought pranks are very appropriate, 33 per cent thought they are somewhat appropriate while 58 per cent thought they aren't appropriate for the workplace.

“With many creative teams challenged with high workloads, office pranks may be viewed more as a distraction than an amusement,” said Lara Dodo, vic- president for The Creative Group’s Canadian operations. “April Fools’ jokes can also potentially alienate or hurt someone’s feelings if not carried out in good taste.”

A certain degree of levity, however, can have a positive impact on the workplace, said Dodo.

“Well-intentioned humour when shared amongst teams can create a positive work environment, especially when business is demanding. Some light-hearted wit can increase morale and motivation, resulting in improved productivity and retention.”

Tips for having fun without crossing the line:

Honour office “superstars.” You can give awards for “best penmanship,” “tidiest workspace” or “most likely to tweet company news” — just be sure to keep it clean, not mean. If you want to go all out, hold an awards ceremony, complete with red carpet walks, printed certificates and short acceptance speeches.

Create some confusion. Pick a lesser-known holiday to celebrate, like International Dance Day (Apr. 29) or Do Something Nice Day (Oct. 5). Organize activities surrounding the event, such as a dance-off or designated time when employees can surprise their co-workers with a treat.

Have fun year-round. Office play needn’t be restricted to April Fools’ Day. Periodically have employees come together to celebrate a topic of their choice, like “flashback to the 80s” or “favourite reality TV stars.” Create costume or trivia contests to add to the enjoyment.

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