"We had a program in which we rewarded [employees who got] good customer comments with $10 gift certificates. Brilliant me comes up with a way to save my employer money by giving a rose in a vase to each employee who received a nice customer letter. I sent out my assistant to purchase the cheapest vases she could find. We gave away lots of them. Until one day I overheard two employees laugh how they were going to get another one of those 'urinals.' When I looked closer, [I realized that] these ugly plastic vases resembled the kind of urinals used in hospitals. I quietly changed the policy to go back to giving out gift certificates."
Although he meant well, Eric Rutin, an executive at a Phoenix advertising agency that closed last year, threw a morale party that managed to offend a majority of staff in attendance:
"I had been doing a series of events to help build morale at our office since our raises weren't as aggressive as in years past. I coordinated a massage therapist to come in one day, we had manicures, brought in lunch and played board games. I thought watching a movie and having pizza would be a good one as well. Well, I rented "Borat," not really knowing anything about it other than some people said it was funny. As the movie progressed, people in my relatively conservative office were offended. Eventually we came to the naked men wrestling scene. That was the straw that broke the back of about three-quarters of the group, who got up and left completely offended. I spent the next several months apologizing again and again to several members of our staff. On the bright side, the couple kids I had just out of college loved it and watched the rest of the movie thinking I was great and hip."
This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.
Michelle Goodman is a freelance journalist and former cubicle dweller. She is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life: How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide: Practical Career Advice for Women Who Think Outside the Cube". For more information, see Anti9to5Guide.com.