Birthdays are obviously a time for celebration, but there’s sometimes a fine line between keeping celebrations fun yet office-appropriate. Plus, for many companies, though acknowledging employees’ birthdays is a great way to make them feel recognized, it can be hard for everyone to take time away from their desks to truly get into the celebration. I’ve found that you can have the best of both worlds, though. Here’s how to celebrate employee birthdays while still keeping the office (mostly) productive:
1. Keep birthday cards handy
There’s a lot to be said for giving employees birthday cards on their special day, because it shows that the office cares without being too distracting. Keep the card in a safe spot and send an office-wide email for everyone to sign it. Then, present the card at the end of the day, when everyone’s wrapping up work anyway. Keep in mind that business birthday cards aren’t the place for inappropriate inside jokes – save those for happy hour after work.
2. Celebrate multiple at once
If you want to spend some real time celebrating employee birthdays, consider taking time once a month – perhaps on the last Friday – for celebrating all of the employee birthdays of the last few weeks. A once-a-month celebration won’t hinder anyone’s performance, and having multiple birthdays will make the office party even more fun. Encourage everyone in the workplace to take time away from their desks for the party – all of the employees deserve a break every now and then!
3. Bring treats
Birthday celebrations and sugary treats go hand-in-hand. Set up cake, cupcakes, cookies or any dessert loved by the birthday guy or girl around lunch hour. That way, people can indulge for 20 to 30 minutes before getting back to work. You can even encourage a potluck-type celebration where everybody brings in their own favorite treats. Potlucks are a great way to go because they typically provide plenty of options and enough food to feed an entire office.
4. Host a gift swap
While the entire workplace may not be able to be a part of it (maybe just include the employee’s team), a gift swap is a fun way to add some levity to the office and take a quick break from the work day. Have everyone bring in silly gifts under $5, and turn it into a Secret Santa swap or White Elephant gift exchange. If you want, have everyone bring in a cute or funny desk ornament that the recipient has to keep in their office or cubicle.
One of the best ways to honor an employee for their birthday is to surprise them with a decorated desk. Have some key members of their team gather things like balloons, streamers and table-top party decorations, and deck out their desk before they get into work in the morning. The employee will feel remembered, and they’ll love spending the day at their bedecked birthday desk. Plus, it won’t take up much time during the actual work day!