Winnipeg Free Press - Section H - - CAREERS -

Peo­ple may ar­gue that the gath­er­ings amount to only a few min­utes’ break, but fac­tor in prepa­ra­tion and cleanup, not to men­tion lin­ger­ing small talk and other party-re­lated dis­trac­tions, and they can use up to an hour or more of pro­duc­tive work time.

The obli­ga­tion fac­tor — Al­though no one is re­ally co­erced to at­tend cel­e­bra­tory events, not par­tic­i­pat­ing in the fes­tiv­i­ties makes you look like a grump. The same holds true if you turn down a piece of cake or pass up con­tribut­ing a few bucks to­wards a gift. There is just no po­lite way to say “thanks, but no thanks” at these things with­out rais­ing a few eye­brows.

So­cial awk­ward­ness — Even though we see these peo­ple day in and day out, these oc­ca­sions can be un­com­fort­able. Maybe it has some­thing to do with singing pub­licly or mak­ing small talk while clum­sily eat­ing cake off a floppy pa­per plate, but the per­sonal el­e­ment of these so­cial get-to­geth­ers can seem pe­cu­liar in a work set­ting.

Un­der the spot­light — Whether it’s shy­ness or pref­er­ence not to be re­minded of get­ting an­other year older, some peo­ple just don’t go for the cake-and-bal­loons scene. They don’t want to be the cen­tre of at­ten­tion. But like it or not, their co-work­ers show up with a cake that the guest of hon­our is then ex­pected to slice and serve. Cel­e­bra­tion ben­e­fits

Boosts morale — Bring­ing em­ploy­ees to­gether for a rea­son other than

Demon­strates care about work-life bal­ance — Birthdays are not the only things worth cel­e­brat­ing in life or in most work­places. By tak­ing the time to com­mem­o­rate wed­dings, births, re­tire­ments and other mo­men­tous oc­ca­sions, a com­pany shows its peo­ple that what mat­ters to them out­side of work also mat­ters at work it­self.

Shows em­ploy­ees they are val­ued — Some peo­ple may not have a lot of friends to make a big deal out of their spe­cial day or fam­i­lies to go home to at night. In some small way, a work­place cel­e­bra­tion that hon­ours them con­veys that they are very

Mix-and-min­gle op­por­tu­nity — Many man­agers com­plain they don’t have enough time to get out of their of­fice and spend time talk­ing with their peo­ple. This is a chance to take a break from work, catch up with co­work­ers and chat about things other than busi­ness. It’s worth do­ing as it helps peo­ple see you as an ac­ces­si­ble and car­ing co-worker and boss.

If you de­cide to hold cel­e­bra­tions at work, re­mem­ber that there is no rea­son why you must keep it a tra­di­tional event. Get cre­ative! Con­sider do­ing away with the cake in favour of hav­ing a monthly potluck or pizza party. Make a char­i­ta­ble do­na­tion in the name of the cel­e­brant. Of­fer a raf­fle where that month’s cel­e­brants are en­tered to win a gift cer­tifi­cate. Or cre­ate a unique and mem­o­rable tra­di­tion such as throw­ing a re-gift­ing party or a themed gift swap that al­lows ev­ery­one to get into the spirit.

— With re­port­ing by Bar­bara Chabai

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