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8 Things to Celebrate in the Workplace to Improve Employee Motivation

8 Things to Celebrate in the Workplace to Improve Employee Motivation
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Milestones, birthdays, anniversaries, and more. We often look forward to these events for quite a while before they arrive—and for good reason. They provide opportunities to break away from our daily routines and embrace a festive atmosphere of camaraderie and happiness.

But did you know that celebrations in the workplace can lead to increased motivation and job satisfaction? Not to speak of productivity. Don’t just take our word for it: according to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace: 2023 Report, 41% of quiet quitters say changes to engagement and culture in their current company would make it a better place to work.

Celebrating in the workplace can make employees feel:

  • Increased motivation when tackling tasks and projects

  • Stronger connections with colleagues

  • Enhanced alignment with the company's purpose

  • More valued in the workplace

In this article, we’ll discuss a selection of activities you can celebrate at work to engage your employees and bolster their motivation.


8 Things to Celebrate in the Workplace

Bonuses, salary bumps, and promotions are all great ways to motivate your employees, but it's also essential to recognize that engagement activities are just as crucial for cultivating a thriving and productive workforce. These offer long-lasting benefits that go beyond monetary rewards.

Let’s say you work in a contact center. Call center workforce management best practices encourage celebration as the effect on employees is clear and demonstrable i.e. agents and handlers are likely to be happier and more motivated and will thus deliver a better customer experience.

Here’s a list of eight celebrations you can incorporate into your company culture to boost employee engagement organization-wide. 

Team-building activities

Free to use image from Unsplash

We know—they tend to get a bad rap. Many employees picture team-building activities as compulsory and tedious affairs with HR brooding menacingly over their shoulders. 

Here’s how to get it right. Design activities that are engaging, interactive, and enjoyable. Outdoor activities can be fun while incorporating elements that promote skill-building, problem-solving, and teamwork. Scavenger hunts, escape rooms, and board games are great ideas.

For good value, align with specific team goals or challenges. For instance, if the team needs to improve communication, include activities like blindfolded obstacle courses and communication webs.

What’s more, they don’t always require a separate day. Throw in half an hour of show-and-tell or puzzle-solving into a meeting or dull day. 

Retirement parties

Free to use image from Pexels

They’re often ignored, but retirement parties should be an essential part of every organization's culture. Retirement marks the end of a career and the start of a brand new chapter in a retiree’s life. It’s a big deal.

Put some thought into it, considering factors like the retiree's preferences, company culture, and budget. A theme that reflects the retiree's personality would add a fun and cohesive element to the party. Make sure there are heartfelt expressions of appreciation. 

And gifts. No, a generic $100 watch does not cut it, but you don’t need to splash a ton of cash. Just make sure gifts from the company are thoughtful and will be appreciated.

Employee work anniversaries

They're like work birthdays. Staff turnovers cost employers an estimated $15,000 per employee, so work anniversaries are shoutouts for sticking around. 

When you recognize and celebrate this, you’re saying, “I’m glad you’ve been around for X years, and I’m thankful for the work you’ve produced in that time.” They’re a great, cheap retention approach.

It’s not necessary to make elaborate parties out of these if you don’t want to. Keep up with the milestone years — one year, five years, ten years, etc. — and show that you care. Get other staff involved and give creative and personal gifts. 

Internal platforms like Workmates are also ideal for this, particularly if your team follows a remote or hybrid work policy. Managers can use the employee recognition software to post anniversaries and other milestones across the company feed. This guarantees employees get the kudos they deserve.

Ensure they are equitable though; you don’t want to build resentment by making some employees feel underappreciated.

Organization anniversaries

Whether you're just starting out or have been running your business for years, company anniversaries are a cause for celebration.

These anniversaries are about your company for a change, but you must still carry your employees along. They're a huge part of what makes the organization, after all. 

Inaugurate a committee to brainstorm ideas. You could take it on social media if it's a milestone anniversary. Share photos, videos, and stories of accomplishments and good times employees have enjoyed. 

This is a great time to honor staff who have been with the company for a long time (or from inception).

Game nights

Free to use image from Pexels

Everyone loves a game night. They’re not extravagant celebrations like parties but offer a more relaxed and interactive atmosphere for employee engagement. 

In addition to fun, game nights promote team bonding, encourage friendly competition, and enhance communication and collaboration. Employees can develop their problem-solving abilities, strategic thinking, and effective teamwork — all while enjoying a lighthearted atmosphere.

Choose a mix of games that cater to different interests and skill levels. At the same time, you want them to be inclusive and accessible so some employees don’t feel left out. Snacks and beverages make for a relaxed and enjoyable ambiance, but be careful with the liquor.

Cultural and diversity celebrations

Diversity is a crucial element for a thriving workplace. Consequently, cultural and diversity celebrations foster inclusivity and honor the rich tapestry of backgrounds and traditions within an organization. 

Cultural holidays, film screenings, heritage days, dress days, and cultural awareness workshops are events you can celebrate. Involve a diverse mix of staff from all levels to plan this.

You want to avoid an HR nightmare, so approach these celebrations with respect and sensitivity, avoiding stereotypes or cultural appropriation.

Award nights

A pat on the back for good work is a powerful motivator, inspiring others to strive for excellence and fostering a high-performance culture.

Consider the award categories, nomination processes, judging criteria, and more. A wide array of categories will ensure you appreciate more staff, so don’t just stop at “Employee of the Month” and a few others. Make sure that any nominations and awards are free from bias.

Award nights don’t need to be solemn, stuffy affairs, so keep it light and fun by incorporating humor and suspense into the activities. 

Holiday parties

Free to use image from Pexels

There are good reasons traditional holiday parties are a cherished tradition in many workplaces. They bring festive cheer and can create (some pretty long-lasting) memories. 

The obvious choice is Christmas, but who’s to say you can’t celebrate other holidays? 

Holiday parties can be tricky. Consider neutral or inclusive themes that celebrate the spirit of the season without specific religious or cultural affiliations. However, if all employees are down with it, don’t hesitate to go all out.

Remember, this event also has a motivational motive. Use the holiday party as an occasion to recognize and appreciate contributions. You can share heartfelt messages and express gratitude to individuals or teams for their achievements throughout the year. 

Ask for feedback

Whatever the celebration or event, don’t forget to ask for employee feedback. They are crucial for assessing aspects that resonated well and making improvements for next time. 

Use anonymous surveys, feedback forms, or one-on-one conversations. Ask specific questions about different aspects of the event, such as the activities, food, atmosphere, or overall enjoyment. It’s highly beneficial to use employee surveys that are built into your HR app or intranet software. This way you can customize the questions using anonymous forms to get genuinely valuable insights into employees’ thoughts and feelings.

Remember, feedback is not an avenue for massaging your ego. So, encourage employees to share their honest opinions and suggestions for improvement.

Employee motivation in the workplace through celebrations: key takeaways

For the most part, engaged employees are happy, satisfied employees. And there’s a pretty strong link between that and motivation. It’s no surprise, then, that workplace celebrations hold enormous potential to elevate employee motivation and satisfaction to new heights.

This article outlined several events you should consider making a staple. These celebrations go beyond surface-level enjoyment — they contribute to a positive work culture, enhance team collaboration, and boost dedication. 

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Author Bio:

This article is written by a marketing team member at HR Cloud. HR Cloud is a leading provider of proven HR solutions, including recruiting, onboarding, employee communications & engagement, and rewards & recognition. Our user-friendly software increases employee productivity, delivers time and cost savings, and minimizes compliance risk.

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