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The Power of Birthdays: Why Celebrating Employees’ Special Day Drives Culture, Engagement, and Retention

Birthday, Work Birthday, Employee Work Celebration, Happy Birthday, Birthday Cake, Birthday Study
Daisy Rogozinsky
July 10, 2023

If you're looking to cultivate a positive, people-first organization within your company, celebrating birthdays is key. Not every employee has somebody at home to make them feel special on their birthday, but you can ensure that each and every one of your team members finishes the workday on their birthday feeling appreciated and celebrated. 

Snappy’s recent birthday study found 80.8% of employees agree that “if employers celebrated personal milestones such as birthdays, employee morale would be higher in the workplace” (80.8%), as would employee retention (74.6%).

Explore four great ideas for how to celebrate employee birthdays and a few best practices that are important to keep in mind:

Employee Appreciation

Employee appreciation, the practice of showing gratitude for who an employee is and what they contribute to the organization, is an essential part of a people-first strategy for any company looking to build a positive culture. 

Employee appreciation has massive benefits that reverberate throughout an entire organizational structure. It’s a top factor motivating employees to remain with their employer, but that’s not all. Employee appreciation has also been shown to significantly contribute to performance, productivity, engagement, and happiness. 

The Birthday Boost 

There are opportunities for employee appreciation throughout the year, but one of the best is an employee’s birthday. Unlike other occasions such as holidays and Employee Appreciation Day, an employee's birthday is a special day focused on them alone. This gives you an opportunity to celebrate your team member in a very personalized way. Snappy’s 2023 Birthday Study found that 89.4% of Americans enjoy celebrating their birthday. 

By highlighting what it is that you appreciate about a particular employee and planning a celebration or gift focused on their specific interests and preferences, you can create a truly special experience that your employee will always remember, boosting their engagement, happiness, and sense of belonging.

Four Great Ideas for Celebrating Employee Birthdays

Send a gift

Gifts are an incredibly meaningful gesture, proven to be effective at making people feel good. A Snappy gifting survey found that 90.3% of Americans agree that receiving a gift makes them feel valued. 

With so much work to be done, it may be unrealistic to spend hours coming up with a perfect birthday gift for each employee. That’s where Snappy helps you take all of the guesswork out of gifting, by creating automated gifting moments using HR data integration, and allowing your employees to choose their favorite birthday gift from one of our expertly curated gift collections. 

With Snappy’s HR Integrations, you can automate employee gifting programs by connecting your HR system to your Snappy dashboard. This way, you’ll never forget a birthday, and each employee will be sure to receive an interactive celebratory gift reveal experience, and the opportunity to select their perfect gift, every time! 

Throw a lunchtime party

There’s nothing like a birthday party to make somebody feel special. Snappy’s Birthday Survey found that the majority of working Americans (91.8%) report enjoying and wanting to take part in celebrating coworker's birthdays at the office

A lunchtime mini-office party is a great way to add some festivities to what would otherwise be a standard workday. All it takes is some light decor, a cake or other sweet treat, and a moment to gather the employee’s team together. 

This is a great chance for managers and teammates to spend time together outside of their day-to-day collaboration and meetings. Make your teammate whose birthday it is feel extra special by passing around a birthday card to their colleagues ahead of time to capture signatures and notes of well-wishes, then be sure to share it with the birthday person during lunch. 

For remote employees, a well-planned Zoom celebration can be just as fun as an in-person one. Make things festive by trying out any of these fun Zoom party touches.

  • Personalized birthday party Zoom backgrounds
  • Interactive games like trivia or charades
  • A pre-made birthday party playlist everybody can listen to from home
  • Lunch vouchers using popular food delivery services 

Decorate their desk

Surprise an employee on their birthday with a gesture that will start their day with joy and delight by decorating their desk. You can use:

  • Streamers
  • Balloons
  • Banners
  • Handwritten notes from team members
  • Birthday cards
  • Treats 

When the employee arrives to work and walks to their desk, they’ll see the decorations and receive the wonderful, warm feeling that comes with realizing your birthday has been remembered and is being celebrated.

You can surprise remote employees by creating customized digital assets, such as Zoom backgrounds, emojis, and stickers, that co-workers can use on your company’s video conferencing and chat software to celebrate the employee’s birthday. 

A full day off from work in celebration of their birthday

A very practical birthday gesture that any employee is sure to appreciate is an extra day of PTO. According to a 2019 survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management, approximately 12% of US companies offer birthday leave as an employee benefit. 

Employees can use their day off on their birthday to celebrate with their friends and family or take it on another day of their choice.

A Few Things to Keep in Mind…

While planning your approach to employee birthdays, it’s important to take a moment and consider a few things to ensure birthdays are a positive experience for everyone…

Respect employees’ wishes

While most employees appreciate and enjoy birthday celebrations, some may not feel comfortable with the attention or may have personal reasons for not wanting to celebrate. 

Snappy’s 2023 Birthday Study found that 2 out of 3 American workers (67.1%) report they would prefer their birthday moments at work be done through private acknowledgment.

Make sure you have a plan to give employees the option to opt out of birthday celebrations if that is what they prefer. This can be built into your onboarding process.

Respecting employees' wishes regarding birthday celebrations can demonstrate that the company values and respects their personal preferences and boundaries, creating a safe work environment where employees feel heard and respected. 

Don’t forget remote employees

In today's world, where 30% of work happens at home, it's essential to remember to include remote employees in birthday celebrations. Remote workers may feel left out or isolated from the rest of the team, especially during events and celebrations that are typically held in an office. 

Include remote employees by: 

  • Send a personalized message, such as an e-card, email, or video message, wishing them a happy birthday
  • Send a gift with Snappy
  • Organize virtual celebrations such as a virtual birthday party
  • When celebrating coworkers birthdays in-office, be sure to extend video conferencing invites to remote team members, too!

Be inclusive

Workplace birthday celebrations should be an opportunity to show appreciation and recognition for all employees. It’s important to keep in mind and be respectful of employees’ personal preferences, background, religion, and culture. When planning birthday celebrations, ask your employees how they’d like to be celebrated, and always show respect to their feedback and wishes.

Additionally, companies should ensure that all employees are invited and encouraged to participate in office birthday celebrations, regardless of their position or tenure in the company. This can help create a culture of inclusivity where all employees feel valued and appreciated.

If your company is developing ways to live its corporate values while prioritizing positivity, celebrating employee birthdays is an essential first step. Acknowledging someone’s special day is a way of celebrating their role within your team, thereby recognizing their contributions as a colleague as well as an individual. Start planning tomorrow’s birthday today! 

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