In fast-paced corporate environments the best companies treat their employees as the most valuable asset. Corporate awards, workplace celebrations, and employee birthday recognition all are important parts of internal company loyalty programs.
On the one hand, a birthday is very personal, intimate fete. Not everyone would enjoy the public announcement of such a special date in the office. On the other hand, the employer can a build really warm, non-formal relation with their team using such moments in an appropriate way, so the benefits of celebrating employee birthdays at the workplace are numerous.
So keep reading, as we focus on employee birthday recognition ideas that will help increase loyalty and improve turnaround.
Benefits of celebrating employee birthdays
Besides strengthening relationships and adding corporate birthday parties as team-building activities, you can also consider creating a tradition of workplace celebration as part of your business’ competitive advantage; it’s a corporate culture cornerstone that will help your company step out of the usual landscape.
In our work developing corporate gifting programs in 200 countries around the world, GBO’s corporate department has found that only a few of the largest companies around the world have a consistent employee birthday recognition program in place. These large companies know that the resources used to celebrate employees’ birthdays are worthwhile to their bottom line, as well as to their ability to recruit new, passionate employees.
Of course, sharing information about one’s employer via services like Glassdoor and LinkedIn is a common practice for employees today, and word of mouth about your company’s birthday celebration tradition can help distinguish your business among competitors and attract more diverse talent.
How to celebrate an employee birthday
The present day office offers some general possibilities the company can use to celebrate an employee birthday at the workplace without creating too much of distraction for other workers:
- Special day announcement (for employees);
- Employee birthday celebration message (for the birthday-person).
For both of them you can use corporate email, sending the first one to all the office staff, and the second one – to the birthday boy or girl alone.
How to announce an employee birthday
Corporate office etiquette suggests that not all the employees receive such emails, only the ones who can attend the celebration. Consider sending birthday emails to the relevant office only vs. to all the business locations.
We recommend not announcing employees’ ages in birthday emails and memos; while some people don’t mind, others are sensitive about it, and there’s little reason to take the risk of making someone feel uncomfortable during their special day. In a similar vein, unless you know your audience very well, you might wish to avoid “Over the Hill”-style announcements, or others with what can be considered off-color humor.
Corporate birthday email announcements
There is no such thing as a universal employee birthday email template. You need to take into account an employee’s position, age, and personality when making announcements, just like when you’re choosing gifts for them. However, there are a few universal tips to follow, and ensure that each employee birthday announcement hits the right tone of professionalism and celebration.
Address the birthday person by name in emails, letters, and memos. Don’t use a generic greeting – it’s their special day, and recognizing them personally only takes a few additional moments at the most.
Extend warm wishes on behalf of the entire company, not just yourself. This includes everyone in the office in the celebration, and is just good manners.
Recognize EVERYONE’S birthdays: If you’re doing birthday announcements for your employees, it’s got to be all or nothing. No one wants to be the person in the office who’s never gotten recognition on their birthday. Make sure there is a system for regularly updating new employees’ birthdays.
Don’t use too much automation! We’ve seen situations where a company developed an automated system for generating birthday emails to employees – great for reducing the work, but not so great when you end up sending birthday announcements and wishes for future success in the company to employees you’ve recently fired or laid off. That’s a little bit like twisting the knife, and news of such faux pas does get around. If you’re automating your birthday messages, make sure there is a system or a person in charge of keeping it up-to-date regularly.
In a similar vein, don’t send emotionally tone deaf emails and birthday announcements. If you’re using automation, be aware of the tone of canned emails, and and their potential impact on employees’ current circumstances. As an example, we know of of company whose pre-written birthday email included warm wishes for the employees’ spouse and family, in which one of their employees received the birthday letter immediately after her divorce. While certainly unintentional, we can only imagine how bittersweet that email must have been. It’s easy to imagine a similar issue with the loss of a loved one. TLDR: keep your birthday wishes warm, and either make sure to edit them for context before sending them out, or make sure the messaging is free of potential relationship landmines.
Don’t mention the employees’ age in the email announcement: either to the company, or in their personal one. Other people in the company really don’t need to know the exact number if they don’t already, and some people don’t like to be reminded exactly how many of their years have passed – even if it is nice to hear a warm happy birthday. Keep things classy, and don’t accidentally open up your employees to any more than the average age jokes and teasing.
Don’t lose track of employees birth dates. This sounds like a no-brainer, but with other priorities and especially in a large office, this can be a daunting task. We’ve included a couple of tools to help you do this better in the Tools section below.
Employee birthday gift ideas
Employee recognition is all about making the employee feel personally valued, which requires knowledge of one’s colleagues and a bit of finesse. Some of our favorite examples of great employee gifts are the ones that include personalized options and customization. The most interesting examples of customized corporate birthday presents sent overseas are gift baskets branded with company’s logo that are filled with all treats chosen with the recipient’s personal preferences.
During one particular employee birthday, we were able to coordinate the delivery right around the time of the office celebration for a lady with a great love of chocolate. Her employer had chosen a basket with her favorite brands, as well as a personalized bottle of wine, with a company branded gift card, and the rest of the office got to share the moment of the surprise with her. We heard back from the employer that the celebration – and gift – were a hit, and it’s a tradition they intend to keep growing!
But what if you don’t know all your colleagues all that well – some offices are very large, and this can be an issue. One still wants to give a great gift, but they know they might be missing that personal touch. That’s why we’ve been here for years, not only delivering the gifts – but also keeping track of favorites around the world. Among the most popular birthday gifts that are being delivered to local offices and internationally the GBO team usually encounters the following top choices by country:
|Country||Popular Corporate Gifts|
|USA||Cakes, cupcakes, chocolate|
|UK||Spirits, fruit, chocolate|
|Canada||Tea, chocolate, spirits|
|Russia||Fruit, snacks, alcohol|
|Germany||Brandy, snacks, cakes|
|Mexico||Sweets, wine, seafaring snacks|
|Japan||Wine (including champagne), whiskey, chocolate|
|Brazil||Coffee, chocolates, snacks|
|Italy||Sweets, wine, cheese|
|China||Wine, biscuits, chocolate|
|France||Pate and cheese, wine, chocolate|
|Israel||Dry and fresh fruit, wine, snacks|
|Singapore||Sweets, snacks, wine|
|Hong Kong||Chocolate, sweets, fruit|
|Switzerland||Fruit, chocolate, champagne|
|Australia||Champagne, fresh fruit, sweets|
|UAE||Fresh and dried fruit, chocolate, flowers|
* GBO internal data on corporate purchase, 2018
So, for those keeping score, when ordering a personalized gift basket for a corporate birthday celebration we suggest that you take into account:
- Personal taste and dietary restrictions (allergies, nutrition preferences, etc)
- Religious restrictions like alcohol bans, kosher needs, halal choices, Lent time constraints, etc. (especially when working with international teams)
- Adding corporate logos to the greeting cards, basket, and packaging decorations.
Birthday related tools for corporate loyalty programs
We’ve got two important tools that we think make it the easiest to manage employee birthday gifts and announcements. The first is a super easy add-on for your Google Chrome browser: Calendar Events Creator. Specifically designed to add more functionality to your calendar, this little tool helps you send information from a Google Sheet or Form directly into your Calendar quickly. Just click the link and install the add-on, then you’re ready to begin.
The other tool is one of our favorites, since it’s one of ours. Use our Corporate Bulk Order Form, and you can do double duty: Keep track of employees’ birth dates, and also pre-order their birthday gifts for delivery to the office on the most appropriate date. One simple order form, and all your employee birthdays can be taken care of. Just download it, fill it out, and email it back to [email protected], and a friendly Corporate Gift Advisor will help you every step of the way.
What To Do Next
Now that we all agree upon the importance and benefits of workplace celebrations, what happens now?
And have fun at your corporate parties!