Roses are red…Violets are blue…Well this is awkward….As I work with you!

It’s hard to miss that it is Valentines Day and although receiving gifts and cards from loved ones is lovely, it can be very challenging when there is unwanted attention from a colleague or consultant at work.

Sexual harassment has rightly been brought firmly to our attention in the media through high profile cases but it can also be the unwanted subtle comments and gestures that need to be addressed.

Many actions are dismissed as “office banter” and “just jokes” which in many cases are used as a defence in grievance complaints but these can have a huge impact making someone feel very uncomfortable in the workplace.

So what can be done? Businesses could use Valentines Day as a team bonding or reward by providing cakes or chocolates for the office as a whole rather than individuals bringing gifts. However, education as a whole is incredibly important. Having open conversations in the office about what is appropriate can really set the tone not just for Valentines Day. It may also be necessary to have a formal harassment in the workplace policy or section in your handbook or Ts&Cs. By creating an open environment to discuss these issues, those that receive unwanted attention will feel confident to speak up.

Dealing with any complaints quickly is essential and should prevent any further unwanted attention, however professional advice should be sort if you are unsure of how to proceed.