We spend a lot of time with our co-workers. So much so that it is only natural to share life events and/or achievements; but are office celebrations necessary or even appropriate? Celebrations give us a chance to connect with one another personally as well as boost morale. Here is how to maneuver celebrating those you work with.
For large offices or departments, it can feel like there is something to celebrate every week. To avoid distractions or interruptions in productivity, try combining multiple occasions like group birthday lunches or joint showers. Another way to celebrate without overloading the calendar is to celebrate once a month. If you have a monthly staff meeting, buy one cake and celebrate everyone’s birthday for that month. For events that traditionally involve a gift or financial contribution, consider the relationships involved and determine if it might be better to have something off site. It is better to have a baby shower luncheon at a restaurant for those that want to be there then to make employees feel forced into something.
Smaller offices are usually closer knit. Depending on the office culture, bosses may be more open to decorations or taking the time to celebrate one person at a time. One of the main differences in a smaller office is that no one can be left out. If you do one party for someone, you must do it for all because they will notice.
The only obligation in celebrating the boss is to acknowledge the day. Where to go from that baseline depends on the working relationship. It is not a requirement to by the boss a gift, but if you wish to honor your boss there are some good options. You can buy a card and have the office sign it or have everyone donate a couple of dollars to purchase birthday donuts or their favorite breakfast treat. If you and your boss are more like mentor and apprentice an impersonal gift may be appropriate.
Some events are bigger than others and as an office you may want to rally together. If a colleague has gone through a major death in the family or if they are expecting a child, employees may want to make a financial contribution or donate items. To do this, you can send out an email with a link to the fund or donation site. Be clear about the request and that it is optional so that no one feels called out if they decline. Encourage everyone to sign the card whether they contributed or not.
Remember, you have every right to sit out a conference room party or avoid any type of celebration, but from a political standpoint, it behooves you to show up for some. If you sit out every group gathering you risk being seen as uncooperative or not a team player.