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Recognizing co-workers

So, one of my co-workers, S, recently graduated nursing school and got herself a big-girl RN job at a nearby hospital. I'm so excited for her! Our unit is now frantically putting together a surprise party/gift for her last day, which is Friday - we now have less than a week to inform everybody, collect money, buy the gift, prepare food, and arrange the party.

I am super-excited for S, who is a friend as well as co-worker, and am happy to contribute, but I feel a little weird about the precedent we've set. It feels like every time somebody sneezes at work, they get a surprise party thrown for them. We do cards and cakes for every single birthday, we throw a LOT of surprise baby showers, and now that we have several nursing students working with us, I guess we'll be getting them gifts and throwing them surprise parties when they graduate and get jobs. I like all of my co-workers, but I feel like now there's this massive expectation to spend a ton of money and time on them every time something happens in their lives. I know I don't want my graduation to cause this kind of excitement and stress - work is rough enough sometimes!

What does your workplace do when an employee has a big life event or accomplishment? Do you feel obligated to participate in every celebration or recognition, or do you only get excited when it's someone you are friends with? Is there a point when recognizing co-workers can go too far, or does anything go as long as everyone is comfortable with it?

Re: Recognizing co-workers

  • bethsmilesbethsmiles Denver, CO
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    My co-workers and I are all pretty close. We all hang-out together outside of work fairly frequently and consider each other good friends. We don't do nearly that many celebrations for each other and we never do them at work.

    Honestly, the number of parties at your workplace seems way over the top! I wouldn't want to work somewhere where I was constantly expected to shell out money to celebrate my co-workers. I'm more than happy to give someone a big hug and congrats for their achievement or life-event but unless we are actually good friends I don't want to be forced pitch in for a present and do a whole party just because we are employed by the same person. And if we are friends I'd much rather celebrate with you outside of work than at work.


  • One area I worked in, we set up a "sunshine fund" that was put towards promotion parties, retirement parties, baby showers, etc. It was like $20 a month. To me, this worked best.

    The area I work in now, they send out a mass e-mail. If you want to contribute you can, if not, delete the e-mail. I like this method too, but this is for a bigger department with satellite offices all over the state.

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  • Blackbird230Blackbird230 Connecticut
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    We do small kinds of things. Our editor will bake for people's birthdays and we sign a lot of cards. One of the only times we collected money was when one of my coworkers got married. We would probably do the same for baby showers. But mostly it's just small tokens of appreciation (cupcakes, cards, etc.)

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  • Dignity100Dignity100 Northeastern Ohio
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    We only celebrate large life-events (baby's, weddings, etc) - for those mini-departments that have interns, they'll do the mini-department lunch at the end of summer.  Birthdays are not really celebrated, the company itself will give us a $25 gift card.

    I worked at a place that also used the 'sunshine' fund idea - except because there were so many of us and it was an entry-level job, it was $5.  If there were funds left we would get pizza and throw a small 'morale booster' type lunch for the whole team.  In this setup - we would do a once a quarter birthday cake with all the name's of those who celebrated in the quarter (instead of individual birthdays).


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  • PepperallyPepperally
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    edited December 2013
    We were celebrating everyone's birthdays until I suggested we just do pot lucks as a team every few months. There was one person in charge of the birthdays...sending around a card to sign, asking what people wanted to do...we used to decorate their cubicle, too. But it got annoying to the one or two people whose shoulders it seemed to always fall on. I was one of those people. So I didn't see what the big deal was about co-workers birthdays. Maybe I'm heartless, but I don't think the office is required to honor people's birthdays...maybe milestone ones at best. We don't have many life events on our team...it's been pretty quiet. One manager got married last year and we all went out for drinks and food after work, but no gifts. But we were all invited to the wedding so we were already gonna be getting him a gift.
  • KeptInStitchesKeptInStitches the Northern Plains
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    Retirements or departures only where I am. I've never heard of a shower at my workplace -- coworkers who have kids get the hospital announcement posted in the mail room and birthdays are written on the whiteboard in there.
  • We have a sunshine club. It's $20 a month and we seem to celebrate everything under the sun. There's always a pizza lunch or panera breakfast for something or someone. I love the surprise element of it...and the food.

    It seems like you may want to suggest establishing a sunshine club if your coworkers all want to have birthday and grad celebrations. 


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