Last year, I gave the five employees who report to me certificates for a 30-minute massage at a local day spa. All five employees thanked me for the gift and they seemed sincere, but our Human Resources Manager just sent an email to me advising that I should get a different gift this year. She said a massage was “too intimate” and sent the wrong message. I trust you to tell me what you really think – was there really something wrong with my gift choice? If so, I must be very dense because it seemed like a nice gesture to me.
Whether your gift was appropriate depends on (a) whether the spa/massage parlor you have in mind is the type of place that gets raided by the vice squad every few weeks, and/or (b) whether you work for the spa and were planning to give the massages yourself. If the answer to either question is “yes”, such a gift could lead to a very unhappy ending for your career.
— Evil Skippy
Based on your letter, I think your Human Resources Manager might have an overly active imagination combined with a bit of a dirty mind. While some people do not enjoy massages, many people find them to be a relaxing and welcome treat. The only message I think you were sending is, “I thought you would enjoy a relaxing thirty minutes not thinking about work.”
Although I think your gift last year was fine (excluding the scenarios posed by ES), I also think you should consider a different present for this year. You don’t want to be predictable, so change it up and keep them guessing. You can give massage certificates again next year, especially if you get a new Human Resources Manager in 2014.
Readers – what do you think? Is a certificate for a massage an acceptable gift in the workplace? Why or why not?