Birthdays matter in the workplace, because they encourage communication amongst your team.I am not a “birthday guy.” Unlike my wife, who proclaims February her “birthday month,” and frequently invokes it for favors, I don’t find anything particularly impressive about the fact that I made it around the sun one more time. In the great cosmic scheme of things, birthdays—even mine—don’t matter much.

Except that they do…

The single fact that all human beings (even sales folks) have in common is that we were all born on a certain date. And this is more than merely data for the HR file. Birthdays matter because they give management a good, non-threatening, politically sensitive reason to call attention to team members and encourage communication.

Birthdays are a good reason to shine a non-threatening, non-work related light on individual team members. Are you looking for a reason to draw attention to the good work Laura is doing this month? Has it been a while since you acknowledged Tom and what he’s been doing? Do people sometimes forget that Lin is out in the Denver office because she doesn’t speak up much?

For the team member (even birthday curmudgeons like me) you can hardly complain about being singled out… after all, team members have their turn once a year. And it gets people talking to each other about something other than the darned Johnson file, which causes nothing but tension. Other than a once-a-year uptick in congratulatory emails, there’s no real downside to acknowledging the unassailable fact that this person was born, still exists, and we’re glad they’re here.

It’s literally the least you can do in the way of recognition.

I realize that this sets the bar for recognition and team building pretty low. But what other ways can you think of that encourage positive recognition of all team members equally, while not taking up a ton of time or distracting from the team’s “real work?”

We’d love to hear your comments and thoughts.

Seriously, how are you keeping the mood light on your team, and helping all members get to know and appreciate each other?


Wayne Turmel
Co-Founder and Product Line Manager

Wayne Turmel is the co-founder and Product Line Manager for the Remote Leadership Institute. For twenty years he’s been obsessed with helping managers communicate more effectively with their teams, bosses and customers. Wayne is the author of several books that demystify communicating through technology including Meet Like You Mean It – a Leader’s Guide to Painless & Productive Virtual Meetings, 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations and 6 Weeks to a Great Webinar. His work appears frequently in

Marshall Goldsmith calls him “one of the unique voices to listen to in the virtual workplace”. He works with organizations around the world to help people use technology to lead people and projects and build productive human connections in an increasingly remote and virtual work environment.

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  1. As with other types of recognition, it is important to know the individual’s wishes as some people don’t enjoy public recognition or being the center of attention. However, overall I agree that it’s an excellent way to recognize and celebrate an individual just for being who they are.

    1. Hi Christine,
      Thanks for your feedback; I agree that (especially for remote workers and leaders) communication is key in order to really get to know one another’s personality.
      Thanks again, and I hope that you find quality resources in our blog!

  2. Even more important than the birthday –for team building–is the anniversary date of employment PLUS tenure recognition. It is easy to do, (gift card, newsletter, bulletin board, certificate, name plate, etc ), and very effective.

    1. Phil,
      Great insight on team building; you’re right! Employee recognition is VITAL to keeping your team connected, involved, productive…the list could go on!
      Thanks for the feedback; so glad for your insight!

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