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Some Traditions Should Die

There aren’t many things that can annoy me as much as being forced into office celebrations that seem superfluous. There’s a tiny part of my soul that dies during the forty-five seconds my co-workers sing “Happy Birthday to You”. I respect that it’s become an almost mandatory part of any birthday celebration, but its lyrics sound more like a taunt than a song. Then you force your friends or colleagues to stand around cubicles eating cake and drinking from Styrofoam cups while singing it, and you have all the makings of legalized torture. For millions of us, the annual holiday party can be just as painful.

All melodic perversions aside, office holiday celebrations should foster an environment where all employees feel like they belong and include customs and traditions that make folks merry. In some cases, that requires ditching the old ones and introducing new traditions as your company grows and your culture changes.

So how do you do that? Most professionals will agree that you need to create traditions that fit with company objectives and make sure your culture is reflected in everything you do. Where should you start when change is needed?

Consider asking the employees what they want. I can hear you all gasping right now, but many employers schedule the obligatory office party because they can’t think of anything else to do. It’s the old standby, but it doesn’t have to be.

If you take the time to listen to what your employees want, you may be pleasantly surprised that they would much rather have a beer exchange with chips and salsa at the office, rather than a fancy dinner at an outside venue.

It’s possible they would prefer a simple cookie exchange, a company wide desk decorating contest or even a pajama day instead of the standard end of year holiday party. Or maybe they are like my co-workers and they want ALL of that spread out over the entire month of December?

Don’t be afraid to ditch the old standby holiday party and embraced new traditions. The staff created celebrations we now enjoy are both enthusiastically met and treasured throughout the year.  What traditions do you enjoy in your office?

And please, by all means, if you have a better birthday song, do share!

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