I’ve worked for companies where nothing was done for a birthday.  I’ve worked for companies where cakes were consumed for birthdays. I’ve worked for companies where cards were given for birthdays. I’ve worked for companies where happy hours were attended for birthdays. I’ve had companies where you got the day off for your birthday. I’ve worked for companies where there were a variety of these things.

After having Hallmark as a client once, I tend to shy way from the celebrations at work for birthdays.  Seriously, there were cakes multiple times in a day – I gained a ton of weight! Over time, I’ve found that I have some patterns associated to birthdays and work.  When I have direct reports, I make a point to pass around a card.  When it’s a colleague’s birthday, I say happy birthday and if able try to have a drink or something to celebrate.  I can’t recall every buying a birthday gift for someone at work.

Why am I thinking about this? Well, today is my birthday. But this is not some self-serving post; it’s because someone already contacted me this morning with a “I won’t forget your birthday this year.”. I didn’t remember that they forgot last year because I didn’t expect them to remember, heck, I didn’t even expect them to know.  This got me thinking about how different people’s expectations are regarding birthdays and work.  Of course, I love to hear happy birthday but our relationship is not built on whether you say this or not.  But maybe it is for others?  Things I’m contemplating.

What’s your approach to birthdays at work?


Tricia Broderick

Tricia Broderick

Tricia Broderick is a leadership and organizational advisor. Her transformational leadership at all levels of an organization, ignites growth of leaders and high performing teams to deliver quality outcomes. Tricia has more than twenty years of experience in the software development industry. She is a highly-rated trainer, coach, facilitator and motivational keynote speaker. Beyond her extensive knowledge and skills, her biggest offering is inspiring people to believe anything is possible.


  • Allison says:

    I love birthdays–they give me an excuse to buy a gift or give a card to those I care about. While gifts or cards can be given anytime to show appreciation, a birthday can make it easier for the recipient to enjoy without feeling guilt or obligation to reciprocate.

  • Kacee says:

    I also love birthdays! Even if I don’t have a cake for my people I at least try my best to acknowledge their birthdays (I keep a spreadsheet with birthdays, work anniversaries, ask them to list their favorite snack, drink, etc).

    You and my daughter share a birth DATE! Happy belated birthday!

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