Imagine it’s your birthday and you go into work. You’ve already opened a few presents and been treated to a birthday breakfast. Now you’re walking into the office and you’re expecting a few “happy birthdays” and a couple of pats on the back. No doubt when you arrive at your desk you’ll have a pile of hilarious birthday cards waiting for you. Then, of course, you’ll be brought a sickly sweet cake that’s definitely going to break the diet. But it doesn’t matter, because it’s your birthday! Only none of this happens. Instead, you’re greeted with a few quiet nods and mumbles of “good morning”. You arrive at your desk with a very long to-do list and an out-of-control inbox.
Manchester City footballer, Yaya Toure, recently had an outburst over his club failing to celebrate his 31st birthday. His team ignored him and no one congratulated him on his special day, so he threatened to sign for another team. Should you expect people to remember your birthday? Facebook and other notification heavy social media can often help the forgetful, but often it’s not until you see the “happy birthday” messages on your news feed that you realise it’s too late.
So what’s the right way to deal with birthdays in the workplace? At SilverDoor, we give people the day off. And if somebody’s birthday falls on a weekend, then we’ll give them the closest weekday off instead. No one is expected to provide a cake or write a lame remark about age in a birthday card. Besides, who wants to be in work on their birthday? If someone notices that their colleagues are just too busy to remember their birthday or they don’t receive the same special treatment as someone else, you’re asking for a whine and a moan. To avoid an air of resentment, a strop and a sulk, why not give employees the day off and let them enjoy it their own way?