It’s time to celebrate! Whether a colleague is about to get married, welcome a new baby, or launch into retirement, there can be plenty of reasons to throw a party in the workplace. Workplace parties can be wonderful occasions to recognize major life milestones and enjoy relaxed time with co-workers. However, celebrations also risk becoming financially taxing and an overwhelming time commitment. Here are a few ways to keep workplace celebrations jovial and under control.
- Don’t Make Every Day a Birthday.
Unless you have a very small office or department, you do not need to celebrate every single employee’s birthday. Even a small gathering with a cake for every birthday quickly can become a burden on time and finances. That said, also avoid workplace birthday parties for only a select few individuals in the office. This gesture may suggest that certain employees are more important and worthy of celebration than others.
On colleagues’ birthdays, a simple verbal “happy birthday” will do. An option to celebrate birthdays within reason is to have seasonal celebrations: one party per quarter for employees whose birthdays occur in spring, summer, winter or fall quarter. And if you are closer friends with a co-worker and want to celebrate him or her individually, it is fine to recognize them with a gift and a celebration – just do so after hours.
- Develop a Standard Operating Procedure for Milestones.
When it comes to workplace celebrations, equality is key. Developing a standard practice for celebrating milestones will lend the same level of recognition to all employees and will make the process more efficient. For example, decide that the your office will recognize a special personal occasion by gathering a collection, writing a card, and taking 30 minutes to share a cake. Such a milestone should not provide the opportunity to highlight workplace hierarchies or to prioritize only a few employees
- Have a Designated Party Organizer, but Offer Help.
Designating one employee, such as an office manager or administrative assistant, to keep track of important personal dates and to plan get-togethers can make organizing celebrations more efficient. However, make sure this employee voluntarily takes on this role, as it is not within the purview of his or her professional tasks. Also, offer to help out with smaller details such as picking up a cake or booking a room for the party. Though it is useful for one person to be in charge of the overall organization, it does not necessarily mean he or she must handle all the details alone.
- Gifts Should Be Collective.
Do not put employees on the spot to give individual gifts. A gift organized and purchased by a department, a team, or even the entire office is preferable to the expectation that employees each should shop for their own gift. Individual gift giving can easily lend itself to comparisons of status and wealth, and can pressure employees to give beyond their means. In some companies, it may also provide a conflict of interest.
A reliable collective gift for an employee may be a gift card or a gift basket, paired with a thoughtful card signed by other staff members. Again, if you are close to a colleague and want to give a personal gift, that is fine – simply do so outside of the office.
- Be Inclusive by Providing a Variety of Culinary Choices.
Due to allergies or dietary restrictions, certain employees may not be able to join the celebration when it comes to the food, especially if the same snacks are ordered for every single occasion.
Introduce new culinary options or include a variety of choices when planning menus for workplace parties. For example, if your office always orders a cake, next time pair it with fresh fruits and cheeses as an alternative. This gesture may also encourage healthy habits at the office, an additional benefit to hosting an inclusive party.