National High Five Day is the third Thursday in April each year. It’s as straight-forward as it sounds: you celebrate by giving high fives!
High Five Day is a fun, easy way to raise workplace spirits, one high five at a time.
The Boston Globe describes it as a “whimsical annual celebration of fraternity and encouragement.”
High Five Day is also commonly used as an opportunity to raise money for a good cause. The organizing nonprofit behind the celebration, The High Five Day Project, has donated money in past years to a scholarship, to cancer research, to mental-health services and physical therapy for victims of the Boston Marathon bombing and to Action for Healthy Kids.
Best of all, you can celebrate High Five Day on the fly if you like. No planning or preparation is necessary. All you need is a high-fiving hand and a smile!
Read on to learn how High Five Day got its start, and why it makes the perfect light-hearted workplace celebration.
How National High Five Day Started
National High Five Day has humble beginnings.
In 2002, a group of University of Virginia students set up a stand in the campus quadrangle and started giving away free high fives.
“We discovered two things,” Greg Harrell-Edge, executive director of the National High Five Project and one of the original UVA students, tells PEOPLE magazine. “One, it’s real fun to give away high fives all day. Two, we got to see it spread virally in real time.”
The event blossomed from there and became a yearly tradition. Soon, the likes of Jimmy Kimmel and Today were showing up to cover UVA’s high-five-a-thon.
The original group of friends who started the day back in 2002 stayed in touch. In 2010, they decided “to direct the goodwill from National High Five Day towards doing real and tangible good.” They added a charitable-giving component and organized as a nonprofit. Since then, the organization has raised money each year for various good causes.
Celebrating High Five Day with Employees
“There is no such thing as an unhappy high five,” writes HRetc!!’s Mary Kausch.
It’s true! Even when the recipient of your high five isn’t expecting it or isn’t “in the mood,” they have to crack a smile. You can’t help but get a little boost from the recognition and joy.
That’s what makes National High Five the perfect celebration for spreading good cheer in the workplace.
“High fives are gestures of celebration and congratulation — they’re about success! Sports teammates use a high-five to celebrate goals, touchdowns and home runs,” Kausch writes.
On a deeper level, “the high-five also pops up when people feel connection, affirmation, accomplishment and when they share something in common.”
The high five isn’t just a fun gesture that boosts employee morale. It’s also a way to share, connect and affirm success. As Kausch points out, teams that share, connect and celebrate their successes together are more productive and accomplished.
Forbes contributor Glenn Llopis echoes this sentiment in his article, “6 Ways Successful Teams Are Built to Last.”
“In today’s fast-paced, rapidly changing world of work, people are not taking enough time to understand why they were successful and how their success reverberated and positively impacted those around them,” he writes. “Celebration is a short-lived activity. Don’t ignore it. Take the time to live in the moment and remember what allowed you to cross the finish line.”
Celebrating should not be an afterthought — it’s a vital part of team-building and employee engagement. Have a little fun with it on High Five Day!
Tips to Building An Everyday High-Five Workplace Culture
Want to build a workplace culture where employees feel connection, affirmation and accomplishment every day?
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