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?