Get Rid of Birthday Parties at Work

Happy birthday to you!  You’re fifty-two!

What? 52?

workYes, believe it or not, this kind of song happens in many workplaces each day.  I don’t know when organizations decided that  reverting back to a practice we all had in elementary school would be a good thing.  Maybe some “expert” told them that it would engage the employee.  Maybe they felt that planning employee birthday parties, complete with cake, would be a good use of the HR pro’s time.  Either way, I say enough is enough.

Frankly, I never liked walking in the kitchen at work only to have people gather around the monthly birthday cake to sing.  Why not put that energy into celebrating something that employee did that was work-related?  Why not celebrate teamwork in the department?  Personally, I’d rather have a boss recognize me on my annual anniversary with the company. I’m all for recognition, but let’s get real, unless you are 10 years old, I don’t know that we need a birthday party at work.

I know I’ll anger all those employees who start telling you several weeks in advance that their birthday is coming.  I just think that celebrating them at work is becoming less popular as our workplaces become more diverse.  Many employees do not celebrate due to religious or cultural reasons.  Singling them out either by celebrating them without understanding their beliefs, or by having to exclude them is not a good way to build engagement.

What do you think?  Do you celebrate your birthday at work?  How do you handle employees that do not celebrate birthdays?  

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