Some people love April Fools’ Day. They play elaborate hoaxes on you and your colleagues that have taken weeks to prepare. You think to yourself, “If only this person would put as much effort into the actual job duties.”
While there’s nothing wrong with occasional practical jokes at work, they carry a certain risk. What one person deems harmless can strike the victim as a mean-spirited exercise in humiliation.
On a deeper level, however, April Fools’ Day can expose fissures in your workplace. Bullying employees—or vocal malcontents—can use the day as an excuse to insult or embarrass their bosses or co-workers. Dominant personalities may figure they can subjugate peers by playing tricks on them.
While you don’t want to come down too hard on merry pranksters, take precautions to prevent hurtful incidents. Probe to find out what plans are in the works. Caution the most aggressive perpetrators against going too far—and against targeting someone they don’t know well.
But don’t forbid creative fun. If you’re worried, require that everyone get your approval before they execute a prank. Lighthearted escapades can build, foster creativity and spread good cheer during a time when we sorely need it.