Opinion: The future of birthdays in the office

by Contributor28 Nov 2017
Jo Power outlines a smarter way to ensure employees celebrate their birthday in style

We’ve all experienced that moment. Everyone in the office gathers around, the candles are lit in direct violation of office OH&S and your colleagues warble out an off-key rendition of Happy Birthday. To some, it’s an awesome moment; to others, it’s something to be avoided at all costs.

Whether you work in an office of health-conscious co-workers who reject ‘cake culture’ or in an organisation that gets pretty gung-ho about birthday celebrations, there’s no reason not to help make your work-mate’s birthday workday awesome.  

Birthdays only come around once a year and more often than not, you’ll be spending the better part of the day at work. To help avoid another case of the birthdaily grind, I’ve put together a few fool-proof ways to help make your colleague feel special (and minimally embarrassed) on their day of birth.

The day off

Keep in mind some employees would rather spend their birthdays away from the office, enjoying some serious relaxation time or hanging out with their family. Or, your employee just might need a day off to recharge their batteries. Whatever the case, offering a personal day for this once-a-year event is something employees will appreciate.

Of course, you can’t force your employees to take a day off. If they don’t want to relax on their birthday, consider the granting them a personal day as a birthday present that they can redeem any time of the year. I like this strategy! If a birthday falls on a Wednesday, for example, letting them opt for that ‘Fri-yay’ off for a long weekend is probably more convenient and special.

A gift voucher

Stop buying your colleagues presents they don’t want or won’t use — and let them do the choosing! Gift them with a voucher instead of a physical gift. Somthing like a Prezzee gift card via email is a great alternative because there’s no waste, they can’t lose it and it won’t go out of date. And you won’t be contributing to the $200 million dollars of lost and expired gift cards Aussies churn through every year!

One for the bosses: reinvent the birthday

Instead of celebrating employee birthdays, why not try celebrating their anniversary of hiring? Why burden everyone with one more lunch, awkward happy birthday sing-song or below-par supermarket cake on a day meant for family and friends? By celebrating the anniversary of their hiring, you can celebrate your employee in a way that shows that it's significant that they gave another year of their valuable time and skills to help build your business. That definitely deserves cake (or a financial bonus)!
 
About the author
Jo Power is the founder of Things by Bean

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