Now more than ever, food truck owners need humor at work to lift our spirits and to keep the creative juices flowing. Anyone who has watched an episode of The Office knows the value (and danger) of workplace practical jokes. Before you place that dollop of fryer grease into a co-workers clog, follow these parameters to keep the workplace practical jokes in your food truck fun and harmless.
How To Evaluate Workplace Practical Jokes
- Choose your target. Make sure it’s someone who is in a secure position and has a good sense of humor. Don’t pick anyone too sensitive or overly earnest.
- Know your audience. If your target is the one who normally plans workplace practical jokes, and gags are common in your truck, you’re less likely to be met with resistance, and your prank may be well received.
- Keep the joke to a day. No one should go home without being “in on the joke.”
- Avoid anything mean-spirited. Keep the joke light and fun.
- Don’t be a bully. Picking on someone known to be an outsider puts you on the same level of the grade-school bully who takes lunches from weaker kids on the bus.
- Avoid gags that could be considered offensive. Stay away from anything that could be interpreted as targeted at any group or could be considered harassment. Making fun of people based on their race, religion or sexual orientation is never appropriate.
- Consider social media’s potential to extend (or ruin) your harmless prank. Be aware of the ramifications of what you do and how a single photo posted on Facebook can affect someone’s career/life.
The Bottom Line
The use of humor in your food truck can boost collaboration and provide a much-needed break from workplace stress. However, targets of pranks or workplace practical jokes may not find them particularly funny. Vendors should promptly discipline any offensive or improper conduct on the part of employee pranksters. Regardless of whether you sanctioned the conduct, it may face greater liability risks or negligence claims.