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Celebrating Life Events in the Workplace and How to Do It

How to Celebrate Life Events in the Workplace

“One of the sanest, surest, and most generous joys of life comes from being happy over the good fortune of others.” –Napoleon Hill

Life events connect us, draw us together and bond us as humans. These significant moments create a commonality, giving us joy as we celebrate with one other.

It seems we have no trouble finding time to celebrate life events at home, so why not extend them beyond the same four walls, into the workplace? By recognizing an employee’s notable moments, we create a sense of community and an element of genuine caring. And with all that comes a thriving company culture.

Life Events Defined

So, you ask, what type of life happenings are worthy of a company-wide celebration? Basically, any meaningful event that all humans share—birthdays, engagements, marriage, the birth/adoption of a child, retirement, work anniversaries, or even buying a house.

According to a Society of Human Resources study, 60 percent of organizations say they help employees celebrate life events. And by celebrate, they don’t necessarily mean an all-nighter at the Ritz. It can be as simple as dropping a card on a desk, saying kind words, preparing food and organizing supplies for a party, or buying a cake and singing a hearty round of “Happy Birthday.”

What matters most is the “remembering” aspect—taking the time out of a hectic day to recognize a personal moment in an employee’s life can markedly raise their workplace experience and happiness.

Added Bonus(es)

We’ve all seen the stats—it’s a proven fact that the more employees are recognized, the more in-tune, engaged and content they feel at work. And—added bonus—recognition ties in perfectly with positive organizational values, which, in turn, increase your talent prospects and employee retention. You bring energy to the workplace when your core values involve recognition. Acknowledging life events falls directly under this recognition category.

Another bonus? These celebrations can be used as an overall team building opportunity too! Whether it’s a lunch event or an after-hours dinner, when your employees are all together in a less formal setting, they will be more likely to overlook differences and see the humanity that resides in us all.

Streamline the Planning Process

Planning these celebrations does not need to be another stressor on your plate. Here are a few thoughts to keep chaos at bay:

  1. Consistency is everything. What you do for one, you must do for all. Celebrations can be different, but try to keep them in the same wheelhouse both in glamour and spending. You don’t want chit-chat at the water cooler about how Kate got a bottle of Dom Perignon for her engagement while Jack got a box of Barefoot Pinot Grigio.
  2. Keep it personal. Your project manager may love big acknowledgment, but your graphic designer can’t stand the limelight. Tailor the event to the recipient. Side note: when it comes to birthday celebrations, be mindful not to over-emphasize age. The purpose is to bring joy, not embarrassment.
  3. Designate someone in the organization to keep track of important dates. Scheduling timely events wins half the battle. You don’t want to be celebrating the birth of Alex’s son when he’s a year old!
  4. Plan ahead. To deter needless over-spending, think about how you might combine events. Is someone celebrating their first anniversary on the team and another their third? Why not recognize both at the same time (still acknowledge each individually)? Also consider celebrating birthdays once a month or even quarterly (but at least get a card for each employee on their actual birthday).
  5. Encourage peer to peer recognition. A Workhuman study found that “givers’ are more likely to “love their jobs, recommend their company to a friend, be highly engaged and have a positive work experience.”

A Few Quick and Easy Ideas for Life Event Celebrations

With only a few clicks, you can have 60 birthday cards delivered right to your door. Keeping cards stashed in your desk saves you from late night wanderings through the grocery store card isle. Write a genuine, personalized message inside, reminding your employee why you love working with them.

Who doesn’t love plants or flowers? An eco-friendly plant cube or one of these charming mason jar planters will brighten an employee’s desk for weeks, leaving them with lasting thoughts of their special day.

Raise a glass…and FYI, it doesn’t have to be booze. There are so many great mocktail recipes out there. Make one punchbowl with alcohol, one without, and let the individual choose. Either way, a toast is a fabulous way to honor life events.

Now all you have to do is get out there and celebrate! Life events are a great time to make personal connections, build relationships and enjoy time celebrating the good fortune of others.