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