Q : In our office (40 employees), a woman's 19-year-old daughter recently gave birth. A close friend of the woman sent a companywide e-mail announcing a baby shower and requesting donations from all the employees for the woman's daughter. Furthermore, the e-mail went to other divisions in the company where the woman previously worked.
Is it appropriate to hold such an event at work when in the past three months three male employees each became grandparents? When I questioned the host, she said the men told her it was fine if she wanted to hold a party in the office.
I told the hostess I thought it was inappropriate to hold such a celebration in the office without celebrating the arrival of all the recent grandchildren, but that I would give something toward the gift just to get along with people in the office. What are your thoughts on this?
-- J.P., Crosby, Texas
A: Employees already complain about the number of times they are solicited for contributions, either for charitable causes or for co-workers' social milestones: birthdays, weddings, births or deaths. Asking for contributions is difficult enough when the person being honored is a co-worker. Asking for contributions for gifts for spouses, children, nieces or nephews of co-workers is opening Pandora's box. Where does it end?
The appropriate course of action for the woman in question was to make the shower a social event, not a work-related one, by holding the shower off-site and inviting workers privately. Asking publicly at work puts people, like you, in the awkward position of feeling compelled to contribute to "get along with people in the office."
No one should be pressured into giving for any reason.
Peter Post is a director of the Emily Post Institute and the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business," published by Harper-Collins. He is one of Emily Post's four great-grandchildren.