Why Every Employer Should Encourage More Parties at Work

Up until now, I have never worked at a company that recognized one year anniversaries, much less celebrated them. Birthdays, retirements and births of babies were, of course, noted with a cake and office gathering, but work-related anniversaries or accomplishments usually passed quietly. Sure I was envious of my friends whose companies handed out raises, promotions, free meals, champagne or Tiffany’s keychains to commemorate their milestones, but I just figured that every business is different. Some celebrate; some can’t keep track.

But back in August, my current bosses took me out to lunch for my one year anniversary with the company. Today we’re having an after-work celebration in honor of the 100th issue of YS Weekly, the newsletter I put together for YSN. And let me not forget to mention the flowers, ice cream cake and champagne that went along with my 30th birthday back in July. Celebrating each of these milestones with the people I see almost every day has been a new experience for me and one that is completely appreciated.

A few years ago, someone gave me a mug that reads: “Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the number of moments that take your breath away.” It’s how I like to imagine I live my life – appreciating the little things; living in each moment, each day. While I wouldn’t consider most work-related events and milestones as “moments that take my breath away,” I strongly believe that the adage should be adopted in every workplace. Think of how much of a happier, healthier environment it would be and how appreciated every one would feel if work anniversaries, holidays, promotions, completing significant projects or closing major deals were celebrated in some small way or at least recognized.

Work is a big part of our every day lives and, for some of us, it defines who we are. Often, our friends and family don’t really know what we do for a living or how hard we work – I know mine don’t! So while loved ones can be happy for you and even celebrate your work-related milestones and achievements, it almost doesn’t mean as much as it does coming from your superiors or coworkers who can truly appreciate and rejoice in your triumphs. They’re the people who know exactly how and why you work as hard you do day in and day out because they’re experiencing it with you.

And if your company doesn’t celebrate these kinds of things in general, do it for yourself, your coworkers or your team. Go out to lunch. Pop open a beer (after work). Sign a card. Send an e-mail. Do something. If you don’t make a big deal about it, you can’t expect anyone else to!