The Best Gift for a Colleague's Birthday

Do we appreciate our colleagues often enough? It doesn't matter if we speak of coworkers or employees (employees are still a boss’ colleagues, right?), these are the people we spend most of the day with. And just as in our personal relationships, we sometimes forget to say essential things like - “Thank you” or “I am sorry” or “You are doing great!”. 


The Best Gift for a Colleague's Birthday


Birthdays are the ultimate times we get to make up for that. But did you know that a person feels a lot different on their special day and not all of these feelings are quite positive? The best gift should be a response to your colleague’s needs right now. And what are they?

Birthdays are moments of epiphany

It is undeniable that on our birthdays we take a look back at the previous year to reexamine our choices, achievements, good and bad moments, etc. Our job and current workplace are not an exception. We evaluate the progress we’ve made, did we reach our goals, did things get better, how are we doing compared to others in our peer-group.

The Best Gift for a Colleague's Birthday

Actually, birthdays are one of the days a person is most likely to quit their job! And that’s because people start feeling insecure about their well-being.

How to respond to these insecurities?

This is a huge topic with plenty to talk about, but we will only briefly describe 2 methods: feedback and regular appreciation.

Feedback is important because it answers directly to our insecurities. Wondering if we’re doing good or bad is not okay, so we should make sure our colleagues know how we feel about their contributions at the workplace. It is either “Look, it could be better and I believe you can do it, just give it another try!” or “Wow! You did such a great job!”, or anything constructive, but definitely not nothing.

60% of the respondents in a research confirm they’d like to have a daily or weekly feedback. Another research shows that teams with managers who received strengths feedback showed 12.5% greater productivity post-intervention than teams with managers who received no feedback. 

The Best Gift for a Colleague's Birthday

Regular appreciation is found in all of these - “Thank you”, “I am sorry”, “You are doing great”, as we mentioned at the beginning. Birthdays are also part of it - we want to feel as if amongst friends on our special day at work. We must have our freedom of expression - to be funny, goofy or whatever.

Sadly, a research by Gallup shows most of the interviewed employees don’t feel appreciated, but claim that they would have much more motivation if they’d been recognized.

So what is the perfect gift?

So far we’ve come to the conclusion that on a colleague’s birthday we need to make them feel surrounded by friends and also understand their needs for appreciation,  better moments, and achievements.

The Best Gift for a Colleague's Birthday


It should be clear that the ordinary coffee mug, luxurious pens, notebooks, staples, etc. won’t do the job. We are sure nobody needs one more thing they HAVE TO put on their desk. We are celebrating a person, not a working machine. Remember this. People at work are just like other people, for God’s sake - they have feelings, emotions, and humor, too! So let’s stop making such boring gifts.

Let’s instead focus on the need for a better and more exciting year.

A masterclass, a workshop, or a course to practise a hobby

Encourage your colleague to do whatever they always wanted or loved outside of the workplace. This is definitely a friendly approach - you think of the person themself, not only of their job alter-ego.

The Best Gift for a Colleague's Birthday


Here are just a few examples:

An extreme experience

Well, that’s definitely something they’ll remember until their next birthday! It is also a great cure for feeling old, because as much as it is a cliche, it is also very true that our true age is determined by our mind and willingness to do something new every day. 

The Best Gift for a Colleague's Birthday

Our ideas:

The freedom of choice

A gift card is the best you could get for someone you don’t know that well. If you aren’t aware of your colleague’s hobbies and things they like, just give them the opportunity to choose for themselves. This way you show that you care more about what they want, which is much better than just getting something!

The Best Gift for a Colleague's Birthday

Whatever you pick, focus on the person, not their job - show appreciation and be truly understanding. Be part of what they will recall with a smile next year. And don’t forget - feelings and emotions first!

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