Do you celebrate your birthday with your colleagues at work? Do you look forward to it or you feel it is an intrusion? Celebrations make people feel appreciated and bring them together, both of which help to form deeper relationships between team members and across the organization.

Celebrating birthdays have some risks of its own. It can be a concern of privacy of personal information and in some cases, it can be perceived as a favoritism practice. And you thought it is a simple birthday wish? Nothing is simple in the HR world.

Birthdays and other milestones are sensitive personal information. We as HR professionals are required to keep it confidential. We should not share the information without the employee’s consent.

Celebrations help boost morale. Please make sure to keep the scale of the celebration proportionate to the size of your organization or department. Be consistent, as in what you do for one you must do for another. Celebrating one employee’s birthday more than another’s might hurt their feelings. People should not celebrate only their favorite colleague’s birthdays while ignoring others. It is not a popularity contest.

Have a written policy and checklist to guide the celebrations at the workplace. You can arrange to send a personal treat and card on or near each employee’s birthday. Due to the pandemic restrictions, most of our interactions are virtual nowadays. It may not be possible to share a cake, but you can send one to the employee to enjoy with their families. Many employers also prefer a monthly celebration for all birthdays that month. 

There are other milestones in employee’s life that they may or may not want to share with co-workers. Please make sure to check with the employee if they are comfortable in announcing a pregnancy or a new home purchase or an engagement. Again, only celebrate what you can do for all employees. 

Also, you may want to check an employee’s birthday while planning an employment termination meeting. You do not want the employee to leave with the story and “I lost my job on my birthday”.

If you need help with your policies and processes, please contact us for a free consultation.