Today is a very popular day for making a fool out of each other. Between friends this is usually great, however in the workplace, not everyone enjoys pranks, and let’s be honest, not everyone knows what actually constitutes a hilarious joke. On this basis, it’s best to keep pranks very low key or avoid them altogether.
We’ve collected below some of the worst April Fool’s pranks of all time – and while they might sound entertaining, there are quite serious lessons to be learned about what is, and what is definitely not, appropriate in the workplace.
Many tame pranks just result in a moment’s embarrassment and a good laugh. However in the workplace the rules are different, as even a small joke can be taken as being harassment and lead to disciplinary action, not to mention upset.
It’s easy to take this too far when you don’t know how a co-worker will react to a prank. A few years ago, servers at a restaurant in Florida were told that the staff member who sold the most beer would win a brand new Toyota. The lucky winner was blindfolded and brought out to the car park, where she was in fact presented with a “toy Yoda” – an action figure of the Star Wars character. She sued.
It’s easy to persuade people to eat something. Who doesn’t jump at the chance of free food at the office? However, fooling your colleagues with tainted food is a big no-no and can lead to serious consequences.
Whether it’s using salt in a cup of coffee instead of sugar, or offering around chocolate-coated onions, people (quite rightly) don’t take well to being tricked in this way.
The Los Angeles Fire Department once paid out $1.4mn to a crew member who was served bolognese that was made with dog food. Among the grievances that the man sued for was a failure on the part of management to investigate…a sign that HR need to take complaints of harassment seriously as well.
It should go without saying that any prank involving injury is off limits, on any day, whether in the workplace or not. Avoid anything that has even the potential to cause injury as well, such as tampering with a colleague’s chair, or surprising them while they are carrying hot drinks.
Going against this will get you fired, and let’s be honest, it’s not likely to make a very funny joke. Don’t be an April tool.
Just plain silly
A man in China decided to think inside the box and post himself by courier service to his girlfriend’s office. Though he aimed to be packed away for about half an hour, the delivery took three hours, by which time the man had passed out from lack of air.
It could have been such a great prank, but a lack of forethought meant the joke didn’t quite go to plan. We’re not sure what this proves except that with office pranks, simpler is usually better, and it’s always best if no-one could get hurt through your actions, including yourself.
We might sound like we’re being grumpy, but you really do have to be so careful with April Fools pranks that it’s generally just not worth it. Handling pranks in the workplace can be tricky for employers as well, as after all they have a duty to protect their staff from harassment but at the same time don’t want to clamp down too hard on people having a bit of fun.