Employee engagement isn’t rocket science. It doesn’t even have to involve a ton of money. Don’t get it wrong: people like monetary rewards. According to Google HR boss Laszlo Bock, though, “people don’t stay for the money.” If you want engaged employees, create a fun, encouraging environment. Hire talented people and invite them to use their brains. Every once in a while, have a cupcake.
An Officevibe survey on employee engagement reveals some disturbing statistics. Among them are:
- 88% of employees are not passionate about their work.
- 79% of survey respondents believe they have dismal employee retention and engagement procedures.
- Employee disengagement in the U.S. costs a whopping $500 billion per year.
- More than 1/3 of employees, 36%, would give up a yearly $5,000 in salary to be happy at work.
Birthday parties are a great excuse to inject some fun (and cupcakes) into your working environment. If you’re thinking of celebrating a coworker’s birthday at the office, here’s how to get started.
First, make office birthdays fun
Above all else, you should keep it light and casual. Your goal is to celebrate your coworker, without diving into serious work talk or embarrassing anyone. Make birthday celebrations a light diversion, and the whole office will look forward to them.
Stretch your budget
There’s no need for a grand celebration. If your team or company budget doesn’t cover employee birthdays, ask your peers to chip in. Don’t make it a rule, as some may not be able to contribute. Get as much as you can out of what you can collect. If you’re on a larger team, consider holding monthly group celebrations instead of individual ones. Frequent parties can be frustrating for other employees. Especially if you’re asking for their time and financial contributions.
Get creative with decorations
Consider decorating your colleague’s cubicle or desk. Make the cubicle pop and save money at the same time by using whatever’s handy. Colorful post-its, highlighters, permanent markers, and sheets of art paper all work. If your budget allows for it, go ahead and buy ready-made decorations. Make sure they are reusable to save on costs. Inflatable banners and tablecloths for the lunch room are decorations you can reuse.
Consolidate if you can
Having a party every week gets old fast. If you have a monthly celebration for everyone whose birthday falls in that month, keep the element of surprise by keeping the date a secret. This way, celebrations won’t be routine. Best of all, the staff will have something to look forward to and get excited about at least once a month. Delegate planning to a different group of people each month so everyone participates. If the company can spare more than a few minutes for the celebration without losing productivity, invite everyone to join in. If you’re working for a huge company, it’s OK to limit the celebration to your group of colleagues. Staff from other departments won’t mind missing out if they don’t interact with you.
Don’t forget the food
Forget the sheet cake, if you’re so inclined. Try cupcakes, cake pops, or even ice cream bars for a change. Remember that not everyone can eat sweets. Add healthy options like fruit cups or vegetable salads. If someone in your group has dietary restrictions, take note and prepare accordingly. For a company on a tight budget, try a potluck lunch birthday instead. Suggest a birthday lunch theme like Asian, Mexican, or Italian. Let executives and other management members know about it for them to have a chance to drop by. Lunch is a great time to engage in productive conversations. You’ll make the celebration a team bonding moment, too.
Arrange quick & cheap entertainment
Why not rediscover your inner child, order a piñata, and fill it with candies? Office bingo is another fun activity you can try if you’re budget’s tight. Pick a theme like Halloween when celebrating October birthdays, or Thanksgiving for November. Ask for volunteers to design the themed bingo cards and prepare prizes that are easy on the wallet. There is no shortage of quirky and cool stuff you can find for under $1. Group activities like these shake up routines and can boost morale.
Give gifts (if you want to)
Gifts aren’t necessary. But they can be a tangible way to let someone know they’re cared for and valued. Greeting cards signed by the team are standard. If you want, you can go the extra mile with a cool but affordable trinket. If your coworker likes music, give her some retro vinyl coasters. For someone who likes football, grab a football pen holder or football eraser. Pick up a skein or two of knitting yarn for the crafter. Find a mini screwdriver set for Mr. Fix-it.
If you want celebrate an office birthday, it doesn’t have to be boring. With some extra effort, it’s easy to make them fun and memorable without breaking the bank.
How do you celebrate office birthdays? Let us know in the comments below.