How to create a culture of celebration at work

How to create a culture of celebration at work

Creating a culture of celebration at work doesn't just mean streamers, cone hats and party poppers. Well, not necessarily...

The best employers ensure celebrations are a constant and everyday feature of the workplace. Whether that's an email shout out for a great piece of work, or company-wide knees up for new business wins. And there’s a good reason - celebration makes for happier employees. 

Research has shown that celebrations release “feel good” chemicals in the brain. One is serotonin, which is known to stimulate a sense of wellbeing, increase motivation and decrease stress. Another is oxytocin, which is great for relationship building and cooperation.

The evidence speaks for itself. Embedding celebration in your workplace is a sure way to foster a culture of togetherness, productivity and happiness. 

In this blog we’ll look at 8 opportunities to celebrate in your workplaces.

1. Welcoming new starters

Landing a new job is a big deal. Your new recruit will undoubtedly be raising a glass to their success and it's important the company does too. Why wait until their first day to celebrate? Sending them a little something in the post ahead of their start date is a great way to show that you’re thrilled to have them on board. Something as small as letterbox brownies is a nice gesture that will come as a sweet surprise.

It's also important to connect your new recruit with their teammates as soon as possible. Research by JobsiteUK shows that 70% of employees say that cultivating friendships at work generates a positive influence on their productivity and happiness. So, the earlier you can start nurturing these relationships, the better. Why not invite the new team member to an upcoming social, like after-work drinks? This creates an opportunity for them to meet the team in an informal atmosphere and toast with the new hire.

Make sure their first day is great by bringing out the welcoming committee. Well, maybe not a committee, but be sure that all staff know to say hello to the new recruit and consider assigning them a 'buddy' for the first week. Why not schedule a new starters lunch or a celebratory slice of cake with their new teammates?

2. Celebrating work anniversaries

The concept of a ‘job for life’ is fast fading, with the average Brit moving jobs every 4.6 years. It’s now rare to see the traditional ‘Years of Service’ awards dished out at 5, 10, 15 and 20+ years of tenure. But that’s not to say we should do away with work anniversary celebrations. Quite the opposite.

Work anniversaries, no matter how big or small, are an opportunity for companies to engage their people and build on their culture of celebration. Surprisingly, only 28% of companies celebrate the 1st year, despite it being a key moment in the employee journey. Within their first year, employees will have gone from being the new kid to a seasoned pro. They'll have plenty of achievements worth celebrating.

Your employees will mentally register the date a year on from their first day and reflect on how far they’ve come. Companies should seize this moment to celebrate all the things they have brought to the table. It’s an annual opportunity to reminisce about the highlights and show employees that you value the relationship in the same way they do.

3. Marking seasonal events and awareness days

It seems like there's an awareness day for absolutely everything nowadays - from 'National Popcorn Day' to 'Bring Your Pet To Work Day'. Whilst some might seem silly, they could provide a great opportunity to inject some fun into your workplace.

By stepping beyond the obvious holidays like Christmas and Easter, you can become more inclusive in your workplace too. You don’t have to celebrate every single event in the calendar but choosing a few each month that are relevant to your organisation and meaningful to your team is a great way to enrich your culture, build traditions and celebrate your people. It also gives employees something to always look forward and a reason to come into the office. 

Download our free 2024 Workplace Events Calendar for inspo.

4. Celebrating achievements at work

It’s no secret that recognising effort and achievement is key to effective people management. It helps keep staff motivated, reinforces positive behaviours, enhances productivity and aids employee retention. A recent study also showed that 69% of employees would work harder if they felt their efforts were better appreciated. 

But, recognition shouldn’t be limited to top-down and one-to-one approaches. Peer recognition increases employee engagement and celebrating one another is a great way to foster a culture of appreciation.

There is lots of software out there that allows for real-time recognition. For example, employee engagement platform Mo allows team members to share their appreciation privately, with the wider team or organisation, or with management at the touch of a button. It’s a great way to capture and deliver positive sentiment as-it-happens in a way that transcends hierarchy. That’s not to say employers can’t translate this digitally crowdsourced information into real-word celebrations. After all, nothing beats raising a glass with your workmates after a successful week.

And it’s not just important to celebrate individuals. As employees, we need to know that our work adds value, has meaning, and is part of something bigger than us alone. That’s why celebrating teamwork and organisational achievements are hugely impactful. Creating a culture of togetherness means celebrating those team and company milestones big and small. It could be a new business win, some project work, or simply getting through a challenging week.

5. Celebrating promotions

When it comes to workplace promotions, some companies prefer to take an informative rather than celebratory approach. Whilst an announcement may be an appropriate way to inform others of changes to the org chart, employers shouldn’t shy away from celebration thereafter. Organisations that really have their culture of celebration down, are those in which employees share in each other's successes. A ritual of celebrating promotions openly will help create this positive workplace culture. Remember; it’s inspiring and motivating for employees to see their colleagues rewarded for their work.

6. Celebrating birthdays at work

Let’s face it, birthdays get a little bit boring the older we get. However, if you’re lucky enough to work in an office which knows how to celebrate, it can be just the pick-me-up you need. In fact, your colleagues probably get more excited about your birthday than you. Why? Cake, of course. 

Cake is the universal centrepiece for birthday celebrations. But in the workplace, it takes on Holy status. There's simply nothing like the buzz of finding out there's cake in the office.

If your company budget and waistlines can’t afford to have cake every single time it’s someone’s birthday, why not opt for monthly cake day to celebrate the month’s birthdays in one go? Some employees won’t want a fuss made about their big day and that’s totally fair. By grouping a few birthdays together you take the spotlight off the individual and create birthday camaraderie. 

If your team are hybrid or completely remote, why not get a birthday treat delivered to their door?

7. Personal moment celebrations

One-third of our lives is spent at work. Whilst work/life balance is important it is inevitable that they’ll crossover sometimes... and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. 

Some people enjoy bringing more of themselves to work and being able to share personal moments with their coworkers. By celebrating these moments with your team, it shows you have a vested interest in their life outside of the office walls - you care about their success in every area of life, not just work. Your culture of celebration shows you value them on a personal level not just based on performance. 

Now not everything is worth a full-blown celebration, but there are some bigger milestones worth mentioning. Engagements, new homes and pregnancy are huge moments in your team’s lives and are worth celebrating. This doesn't have to be a big party, again you could do a monthly round-up of celebrations for all staff or you might want to keep things personal. A box of cookies sent during the first week of paternity/maternity leave could be just the pick-me-up your colleague needed on the first of many sleepless nights.  

You could wait to celebrate as welcome back after honeymoons, operations or sabbaticals. These will not only show your workforce that they were missed but brighten up that sometimes difficult first day.

8. Sends off for leavers

Don’t end a contract with a bitter taste in your mouth. Put some cake there instead. Whether they are retiring or resigning, saying goodbye to a team member can be genuinely sad for both the leaver and those left behind. Most of us have felt the sadness of a workplace break-up. Send them off the right way and show how appreciative you are of all their hard work to date. 

A card signed by the entire team is classic, but make sure you get it sent around early to avoid repeats of ‘all the best’. If they’ve been with the company a while not pull together a compilation of their best bits and celebrate their contributions to the business.   

To conclude...

Every celebration is an opportunity to get ‘feel good’ pumping through your company. When thinking about ways to embed a culture of celebration into your workplace, it’s useful to consider the key points in the employee journey. Plan for seasonal and cultural holidays, and keep your ear to the ground for individual, team and organisational achievements. For those celebrations, you can predict, make sure you have them in the diary and consider setting up an automated gifting plan so you know they are taken care of. Employee recognition is crucial for retaining talent and making sure your team stay engaged. Celebrations at work are a fun and proven way to do that. 

Now go find your party hats!

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