I work for a relatively mid-sized company of ~100 people, and one of the employees’ wives recently had a baby. Some folks at work decided to throw a baby shower for him and his wife, in the cafe at work over lunch. They sent out the following e-mail (I’ve redacted some information for privacy reasons):
You are cordially invited to a baby shower for:
(Insert co-worker’s name)
Friday @ 11:30 in the cafe
Britney will do the gift shopping. There is an envelope at her desk for money donations (suggestion $5-10).
Since this is a lunch time event, we also request each person bring a food item. Britney has the food list for you to sign up.
Also, please sign the card.
Thank you all. Hope you can join in the celebration.
That e-mail was followed today by two more:
This is a reminder for the (Co-worker’s name) baby shower tomorrow (Friday, 11:30 am). If you haven’t done so, please go to Britney’s office…Sign the baby card. Donate gift money. Sign up for a food item to bring. Let’s wish the to-be-parents well. Thank you.
And, from another person on the invite list:
Nothing like waiting to last minute….As I myself just donated/signed up.
Over hearing some of the chatter in Britney’s office regarding the ‘lack of involvement’ thus far, I have deemed myself the enforcer of this initiative. Let’s keep this company the family orientated place it once was and support our fellow coworkers. As you can see, not everyone was invited to this. Lets support Coworker and his wife as well as Britney and Regina in taking time out of their busy schedule to coordinate this.
I did not originally notice that not everyone was invited, and after discovering that fact was surprised to see my name on the list at all. I’ve worked here for some time but have really had only passing interactions with Coworker. Am I imagining a little forcefulness here to sign a card/give money? And I’m a little speechless that they’re choosing to hold an exclusive baby shower, in the company cafe, when not everyone was invited to the event.
I’m eager to hear any thoughts you may have. 0314-13
I have been asked this question many times in the past 2 decades and each time I am a little astonished that Human Resources does not seem to have a clear mandate on office parties.
The basic rule is that a company should decide whether celebratory parties such as bridal showers and baby showers are part of the corporate “benefits” for all employees. In other words, are corporate assets being used to plan and promote a party for an employee? Assets such as use of the business facility, employee time taken to coordinate the party, use of the email system or inter office mail to invite fellow employees. If they are, it’s a “perk” that all employees should be given equally. Limiting the guest list is fine if done logically, like all the employees of a particular department, but randomly inviting most but not all employees is a sure recipe for destruction of morale and resentment when it is realized that some have been excluded from an event that used business resources. A good manager would have never allowed his staff to deliberately divide his employees into those who rate an invitation and those who do not. And it should go without saying that if company assets and resources are being used to plan and execute a shower for one employee, the same should be done for ALL employees lest there be a disparity in how employees are treated.
All the above becomes moot however if several employees wish to bless a co-worker with a private party in one of their homes, or at a restaurant and use personal email accounts and personal time to plan, invite and execute the party. What employees do on their own time is their business and has no bearing on what the corporate policy should be. But that is not the situation you bring to Ehell’s attention.
I do not believe in coercive invitations which guilt manipulate guests into attending, giving gifts and self catering. It is no longer an invitation but rather a summons and god forbid if the second email was sent by a supervisor/manager. One should feel no compunction to accept an invitation to give money to someone they are barely acquainted with. Particularly if this is a co-worker who you do not socialize with outside of business hours. If you have never gone to lunch with this co-worker, why would you do so now under the guise of celebrating a profoundly personal life event of a new baby? All that is required is a hand shake and, “Congratulations on the new baby, Bob!”
This has become more about not offending Britney and Regina, the office coordinators of the baby shower, than it is about blessing the new father. Both secretaries have bitten off more than they can chew and if this shower is a bust, they look bad and it exposes the perhaps grim reality that maybe the new father isn’t the most beloved employee in the company. If showers have not been equally distributed to all in employees in the past, one wonders why two women have taken it upon themselves to plan one. Office politics being what it is, I would want to be know if there is some ulterior motive. There is a real danger in not applying the “perk” of celebratory parties to all employees equally.