According to many researchers, one of the most powerful motivators for employees is recognition. Although money is important, it’s only a motivator when employees feel underpaid. And once a raise or bonus is received, the motivational effect passes very quickly. Recognition, on the other hand, has a longer lasting and more noticeable effect on employee motivation.
Group recognition and team building are excellent tools for boosting morale, but one of the most effective, and yet often overlooked ways to recognize employees
is to celebrate their birthday and their work anniversary.
Why birthdays and anniversaries work so well as motivators
You could probably come up with two or three dozen things to celebrate as a business or as a work team. A big project, a jump in revenue, or an increase in net sales could all offer good reasons have a party. But what those events lack is a focus on one person.
An employee birthday or anniversary is a chance for one person to stand in the limelight and be recognized separately. For one day, it’s their day. Even if the work day goes along as usual, with the same start time and stop time, and the same work, the day feels different when an employee birthday or anniversary is being celebrated.
How to celebrate
Start by putting employee anniversaries and birthdays into your attendance tracking program or software so you’ll be notified about the day. This is a great way to make sure that no one is overlooked.
The choices for how to honor an employee birthday or anniversary are as diverse as the number of businesses out there. Some choose to have a birthday lunch out, or order in food. Others have a potluck. Some just take a quick break to have cake and sing.
An employee birthday card or anniversary card might be passed around for everyone to sign.
Other team members might stay late the night before or come in early to decorate the honoree’s office or workspace.
The power isn’t in how the event if observed – it’s in the fact that it is being celebrated at all.
The flip side of the story – when special days are ignored
Not only is celebrating employee anniversaries and birthdays a great motivator, not celebrating them is an almost equally powerful demotivator.
When employee’s special days are ignored, the employee is left feeling like a cog in the machine. They begin to feel that they are not valued as an individual, but only as a tool for producing output. And that can send morale and commitment plummeting.
That could lead to increased employee absenteeism, declining productivity, or even your best employees looking for a more welcoming workplace somewhere else.