Insights & Ideas

The extraordinary power of workplace celebrations

When you regularly celebrate achievements—small and large—your business reaps the benefits.

There’s a party going on right here… a dedication to last throughout the years.

When we think of workplace celebrations, we usually think of the legendary parties. The fancy dos. The big bashes. Like that Halloween when the whole team dressed up as Flintstones characters or the time goats got loose in the office. (It’s a long story.)

However, not every celebration needs to be a big shindig. In fact, a healthy “celebration strategy” includes recognizing the people on your team throughout the year in all sorts of ways.

Leadership participation isn’t optional

Business leaders, take note: Regular celebrations are more than just good fun. They are a powerful business tool that can motivate your team, boost morale, solidify culture/values, increase confidence, reduce stress, and increase productivity. Most of all, it shows that leaders are paying attention to and appreciate the hard work people are doing.

This means leading by example. We’ve all seen many office ping pong tables collecting dust. Leaders need to make the first move, so that everyone sees that having fun and celebrating are allowed and okay. Whether it’s dressing up in a Halloween costume, inviting someone to play ping pong, or putting a big playoff game on for the office and ordering in some hot wings—leaders need to show that celebrating is endorsed and encouraged for everyone.

A formula for successful workplace celebrations

Once leaders are ready to have fun and celebrate alongside everyone else, it’s time to be thoughtful about how you want to create a fun and rewarding celebrations that are unique to your organization. The formula is:

  • Identify a milestone, achievement, or effort. Celebration is usually associated with achievements, wins, and victories, but acknowledging effort in the face of difficulty—like a particularly challenging project—can be just as powerful.
  • Create a shared experience. Whether you’re celebrating an individual or the whole team, acknowledging the honoree(s) in the presence of their peers is important.
  • Make the recognition meaningful. While employees appreciate a cash bonus or generic gift certificate, personalizing the celebration around the person, team, or achievement makes the experience more sincere and memorable.

Make office celebrations a regular occurrence

Celebrations aren’t just for big milestones or triumphs. There are so many things to celebrate in everyday work.

A sincere compliment or a round of applause during a team meeting can be a mini-celebration that means a lot to the recipients. Every time someone gets recognized, it reinforces their sense of connection to their work and their team.

For example, at Salo, when our business development directors are in our physical offices, they will hit a gong (yep, a real gong) when they place a consultant on a project. Everyone stops what they’re doing to cheer and offer congratulations. But the celebration doesn’t stop there—it’s followed by a company-wide email that describes the details of the engagement, including all people who contributed to the outcome. It’s a quick way to celebrate an everyday win.

Keep virtual celebrations in rotation

Online happy hours and other celebrations, once crucial connective activities in recent years, remain an effective tool for showing gratitude to employees and highlighting special accomplishments. As today’s workplaces increasingly feature remote and hybrid teams, recognizing successes through online platforms will continue to benefit organizations.

Another Salo example is an internal shout-out program, where employees recognize coworkers for going above and beyond in demonstrating our company values. Through a quick story submitted on the company intranet, everyone can learn how coworkers are contributing to great outcomes and participate in cheering them on. These stories are also shared in all-company virtual meetings every month. It’s a simple way to celebrate the good work being done across the organization.

There are countless ways to celebrate your teams

Make people feel valued by recognizing any time an objective is achieved. Here are just a few examples:

  • Hitting a milestone in a project
  • Making a sale
  • Making a discovery
  • Achieving new levels of knowledge or certification
  • Trying something new
  • Putting in some extra effort
  • Getting a promotion
  • Celebrating work anniversaries or birthdays
  • Demonstrating company values
  • Helping other succeed

The possibilities are endless.

Meaningful celebrations, long-term value

When leaders prioritize frequent, meaningful celebrations regularly, the big parties aren’t what people remember. Those parties are a footnote in a legendary workplace experience. But the value these actions bring to your people after the confetti is swept up is what truly lasts.

Nick Stokes

Sales Director, Minnesota HR


About Salo

At Salo, we’re building a world that works better together. Looking for ways to meaningfully recognize and celebrate your people and company culture? We have senior-level HR consultants who can help. Connect with us today.

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