Gift Ideas for Coworkers that Make an Employee’s Birthday Special
Jack is a busy guy. Besides working for your organization, he has three kids and a wife. He doesn’t get much attention, whether at the office or home. But one day, every year, is his day – his birthday.
Your office sings. The cake is cut. Jack feels like a million bucks … as he should.
How much better would he feel with an employee birthday gift from you?
For the Budget Conscious – Have a Pot Luck!
OK, you don’t get a budget from the C-Suite to throw the best party. Don’t worry about it. Enlist the help of your staff! We do this at our office with great success. Jake brings his sausage balls. Jennifer brings her salsa. Jerry brings store-bought sugar cookies (not homemade, but we appreciate the gesture). We have a sign-up to ensure everything is covered. We never get through all the food. Leftovers sit out and are picked at all day. It’s employee engagement through food!
This kind of party is good because it engages the staff to plan, rather than just attend. People love Jake’s sausage balls! They expect them now, a type of gift idea for coworkers. They’re disappointed if he doesn’t bring them. Jake feels great about this. Even though it’s not his birthday, he becomes better engaged with the team.
Theme Parties – Get Creative!
No one wants to attend the same birthday party, over and over. Sure, cake never gets old. The party can, if you don’t mix it up from time to time. Think about the interests of the people for whom you’re throwing the party. Take one interest from each person you are celebrating, and combine them for a unique fusion. You are throwing a party for Mary, Matt and Mike. Mary is a Celine Dion fan. Matt loves Marvel movies. Mike is a Star Wars fan. The theme could be superheroes vs Jedis, set to the “Titanic” soundtrack. What a mashup, huh? You can have a trivia competition with prizes related to the theme – i.e., “What is Captain America’s real name?” Keep in mind it’s not even how well a theme works that matters. It’s the effort that’s noticed – and thus appreciated. This is employee recognition that’s fun! Mary knows you can’t stand Celine Dion. Still, you sat with her, ate cake and listened to the music for 15 minutes.
Engage the Outside World – Document It!
People are generally happy at a birthday party, so take those pictures of smiling employees! Post them on social media. E-mail them to the rest of the company. Let others see how much fun you are having. Don’t be ashamed to show off the employee engagement effort you made for your team. By posting them on LinkedIn or Facebook, and e-mailing to the rest of the company, you invite others to wish them a happy birthday. This brings the company a little closer. It also creates an archive for end-of-year events. If you don’t have pictures or videos, how can any kind of recap video be made for your team?
Sing the Song!
Yes, that song is annoying: “Happy Birthday to you…” We’ve heard it a thousand times. For some reason, we still can’t hit that one note. Regardless, you need to try. Employee recognition isn’t about singing the song well, it’s about just singing the song. Sure, it’s an overused ritual for birthday parties. Yet it’s so ingrained they don’t feel right if you don’t sing it. It’s less than 30 seconds, anyhow. Just give your best shot – even if you can’t hit that one note.
Don’t Underestimate the Power of a Signed Card!
A card suffices perfectly for someone celebrating their 31st birthday. Passing a card around and writing funny messages, or just signing it, gives the recipient a feeling that everyone is involved with this employee recognition. Remember, employee engagement isn’t just the relationship between employee to employer – it’s also rooted in employees to other employees. They should relate to the team. The best part about a signed card is that it isn’t thrown away. It stays on their desk as a constant reminder of the team’s appreciation for them. Even if rarely glanced at, its mere presence is an employee recognition that they belong on that team.
Sometimes Presents Are In Order
If someone is celebrating a particularly special year, you may want to go the extra step. Taking them to lunch isn’t enough. Come up with gift ideas for coworkers they can take home to their family – whether something tangible, or a gift card the whole family can use. If you give a restaurant gift card, not only is the employee thankful, but their spouse and kids are too. This impression on the employee’s family has major impact on how that employee views their company. As an employer providing an employee birthday gift, you are facilitating family memories that will last longer, and be held closer in heart, than any office party you ever threw.