How is meaningful celebration achieved in the workplace? It takes more than free food, although without food, celebration often feels incomplete. People tie meaning to the reasons for and frequency of celebration. It’s a combination of thoughtful consideration and authentic spontaneity, both of which feel authentic to people when they experience them as an integral part of your culture. So, let’s take some time to explore meaningful celebration in the workplace.
Consider How to Celebrate
In order to be meaningful, celebrations need to be well thought out and relevant to your team and its mission. Purposeful celebrations are a powerful tool that boosts morale. On the other hand, events not tied purposefully to culture erode or deflate a hard-earned, healthy culture. Well-timed and meaningful celebrations provide a sense of connectedness to each other and the mission. Conversely, celebrations that are too frequent or patronizing often result in negative feelings or a sense of entitlement that is never quite satisfied. Choose intentional value-system alignment as one means of planning your celebration and it will raise morale and deepen commitment.
What makes a celebration more meaningful? First, we recommend you know your teams and their missions well. What is meaningful to one team may not be meaningful to another. Next, ask them what they value and to provide input into the planning and content of the event(s). Encourage communication (and even wishful thinking) among your team members. If they feel ownership of the plans, the celebrations feel more personal and appropriate.
Meaningful Celebration Suggestions
Plan with your organization’s mission in mind. Does your mission include reaching out to the community? Consider a party in your area where you celebrate your successes and meet & mingle with your local community.
Do your employees value family time? Invite their families to celebrate everyone’s success. Include free food and fun activities that help team members feel that you acknowledge and affirm what they care about.
Are there a lot of athletes among the group? Consider participating in team sports or an outdoor activity. Do you have a more laid-back crowd? Provide something more relaxing like a park day or catching a show together. Decide if you want everyone together the whole time or if separating into smaller groups is OK, or even preferred—a thoughtfully planned scavenger hunt works well for this, especially if it ends with a meal and awards relevant to the hunt.
You may even consider an extra vacation or comp day as a celebration for a hard-earned success. Provide a thank-you note with a gift card for use on the day off. When a sense of meaning is felt strongly and consistently, it provides additional motivation for leaning into the work to come.
Does your business involve close work with clients? Invite them to the celebration. You can continue building meaningful relationships with clients through hospitable celebration. You could even throw a celebration for something they achieved and include your staff as a way of strengthening connection to external stakeholders and their mission.
Consider When and What to Celebrate
In evaluating when to celebrate, timing and relevance are key factors. It’s easy to err on the side of too little celebration or too much. Not all successes warrant full-on celebration. So be wary of premature celebrations. People know when a thing is still unfinished. But they also appreciate acknowledgement of milestones along the way. With the intentional seeking of input from all levels of the organization, you and your leadership team learn what boosts the health and productivity of your team(s).
Place people in charge of planning and execution who will be intentional, thoughtful, and mindful of the effort and results of those responsible for the highlighted achievement(s). Purposefully acknowledge the two and your celebrations will be appreciated with humility rather than entitlement.
So, if you need help creating a healthy work environment, we are here for you. Our experts at TurningWest have lived-experience, rounded-out with academic rigor. TurningWest—Your Guide to a healthy culture with meaningful results.
Suggested Resource: Listen to this podcast for more insight into how thoughtful leaders care well. Taken for Granted: Indra Nooyi Says It’s Time for Leaders to Care