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Birthday celebrations in offices generally mean a card by the HR department and a pooled birthday cake in the lunch hour where some gather happily and others reluctantly.
Acknowledgment of one’s special day makes everyone happy. You spend more than half your waking hours in the office and come a birthday, a little bit of celebration with the colleague should not be a chore.
Recognition in any form goes a long way in getting employees to engage with the workplace better. A simple token of appreciation like a card signed by all in the office is friendly. If a present accompanies this, like a golf ball for a golf enthusiast, tickets to a show, if one is a theater fan or a sports fan, it goes a long way in making a co-worker happy.
Organizing a birthday celebration in office time can be an onerous task. There are some people who are reluctant to even take 5 minutes away from their work station.
Others are not happy to dip into their pockets to contribute to the party. They are either not well acquainted with the colleague, or the person is from another department or some such reason.
To top it all, somebody has to be willing to organise the occasion. Generally, it falls on the person who is friends with the birthday boy or girl, or the team that the person works in.
Here are a few ideas, ( office norms permitting) that one can dip into to make the day special for a well-liked colleague.
Decorate their work station.
Make a collage of pictures of the person at work in various moods. Set up the desk with some flowers and small gifts, just tokens like a keychain for the desk lock, a pen holder, a back scratcher, a bobbing head. There are many such cute options available. One has to be just a little creative. Even a card signed by all the colleagues is always welcome.
Add balloons around, but make it a little discreet as too many can be distracting.
If you want to go big with the celebration, then lunch can be organized. This may take a little planning as you have to decide who all to invite. Organise a common gift. Book a restaurant in advance with the right numbers.
Most importantly, get a confirmation from the people invited. Keeping it within the circle of friends in the office helps. That way, you avoid any disgruntled complaints of non-invitation. Inform the HR ahead of the lunch so that the invited group can be free for that lunch hour, and a little lateness is also not frowned upon.
The office can have a policy of a day off for the birthday or have a tradition of donating to a charity of choice.
The company can have a tradition of celebrating with a cake. But such occasions can become overwhelming and very frequent in a big organization. So an alternative is to pick a day in the month to celebrate all the birthdays in that month. It is a fun way to get together and celebrate.
Create a customized video
If you have some pictures of the person in the office environment make a college and get some team members to answer some funny questions about the person.
Samples: If he/she was not working here, where will they be?
First thought in the morning? Your first thought when you met him or her for the first time. Three things they would take with them on an isolated island?
You can film it all on a smartphone and edit it on a free video editing app.
Note from Top
The HR can get involved in making sure that the top boss sends a personal note to the birthday girl. It may mean more work for the HR team, but there are many digital tools available that make the task easier. Have a calendar chart of all birthdays and keep prewritten digital notecards (make sure they are varied and interesting and not the same standard one doled out to everyone) with the name and date slot to be filled later. It is then easy to print and then get it signed by the big boss.