Build your own workplace celebration and you’ll not only honor your company’s unique culture but enjoy the full benefits of recognizing employees!
Observing major holidays with coworkers is important — Thanksgiving in particular is a celebration that unites Americans — but not all holidays are a good fit for your specific company, workplace culture, local customs and employee preferences.
When you design and take ownership of a workplace celebration, you set down a culture building-block! Celebrations define our values and bring us together with the people who share those values.
Celebrations also energize our daily lives and our commitment to shared goals. In the words of Oprah Winfrey, “The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.”
That’s why a build-your-own workplace celebration means more. Since it’s customized, it sends a powerful message that your company values its unique culture and people. Read on for ideas to get started!
No More “Office Space” Cake Parties
A pair of tired (but too often true) stereotypes about celebrations in the workplace can be traced to a common managerial mistake.
The term “office party” generally brings up two stereotypes in popular culture: the annual bash where everyone overindulges at the open bar and makes bad social choices, or an awkward affair where food is the main attraction and no one has fun (remember the cake party scene in Office Space? Poor Milton!).
What do these workplace celebration stereotypes have in common? Managers order food and drink and then consider their job done.
In a successful workplace celebration, “food and drink are just used to set the stage,” writes Aubrey C. Daniels, management expert and author of “Bringing Out the Best in People: How To Apply The Astonishing Power of Positive Reinforcement.”
“The celebration is all about recounting what the person or persons did and how they did it,” Daniels writes in an advice column for Entrepreneur. “It’s an occasion for employees to talk about how hard they worked, how smart they were and how creative they were in achieving a goal.”
The manager’s job is “to facilitate the reliving.”
What’s Your Celebration Story?
As a host, your job is to set the celebration’s tone. As you design your workplace celebration, consider the following questions:
- What specific shared values and experiences are you celebrating?
- What’s important in your employees’ daily life?
- What is unique about your company culture of celebration?
Celebration activities are easy to brainstorm — for inspiration, check out the ERC HR Insight’s “100+ Workplace Ideas: Celebrations, Parties and Gatherings.”
The trick is finding an activity that appeals to your employees and fits the narrative of your company. Are you all about fantastic customer service or zero defects? Then celebrate that. Celebrate what makes your culture unique.
Keep in mind that while management sets the tone for your workplace celebration, everyone should be invited to actively participate in the celebration story. Daniels suggests that management keep speeches short and instead focus on inviting employees to talk about work accomplishments.
“In the beginning, people are often slow to respond, but as they see others participate, you’ll have no trouble getting people to talk,” Daniels writes.
Focus on EVeryday Celebration
SurveyMonkey research on employee responses to workplace celebration suggests that mandatory events are a buzzkill. The majority of respondents said celebrations are good for morale, but just as many said they feel some degree of pressure from bosses and colleagues to join in.
Feeling pressure is an indicator of guilt — not a celebratory mood!
The same SurveyMonkey research also reveals that the top reasons employees give for avoiding workplace functions relate to an apparent breakdown in communication between management and employees.
Reasons to skip celebrations include: a general sense of poor morale, religious affiliation, and preferring a bonus over celebrating.
All these reasons — and the commonality of pressure to participate — point to out-of-touch management teams that fail to communicate effectively.
A flashy party is not the secret to creating a workplace celebration everyone wants to attend.
Celebrations are naturally appealing to employees when recognition and celebrating is part of daily dialogue, according to a LiveHappy guest column by organizational consultants Margaret H. Greenberg and Senia Maymin. The duo suggests starting weekly conference calls or meetings by asking, “What’s one piece of good news, personally or professionally, since we last talked?”
One of the consultants’ clients observed, “Happiness lies within every employee regardless of title, position or salary.”
Effective leaders “recognize what it takes to activate this happiness across all levels of the organization by knowing that every employee wants the same thing — to excel at what they do and to be happy while doing it,” she said.
Instead of blowing your efforts on a major party, consider a series of more frequent, customized workplace celebrations that take the pressure off, communicate your company’s ongoing successes and involve employees on their terms.
For more great tips and insights into building a vibrant culture of engagement and recognition, be sure to download our free e-book, “The Top 20 Employee Engagement Blogs You Should be Reading.”
About gThankYou, LLC
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