The Science of Celebration

5 Reasons Organizations Should Do It More Often

My life is full of celebration. There are happy dances for finished dishes, celebratory puppy cuddles for when our rescue dog makes it around the block without barking, and obligatory family clapping when my son eats anything other than bananas. He really loves bananas.

That’s my home life: dances, cuddles, and clapping. There are also theme songs.

I’m not the only one celebrating. Celebration is one of our most natural impulses. First steps, rolls, words, and bowel movements are celebrated. Good grades are celebrated. Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day, and Fridays are celebrated.

A salesman takes his wife out for dinner after a sale. A couple sips sparkly champagne together in celebration of their anniversary. Graduation ceremonies end in a multi-generational gathering of congratulations and gifts. We celebrate with our loved ones on a regular basis.

But that’s not always true of the office.

Celebrate good times? Come on!

Unfortunately, most of the companies I’ve worked for over the years have been missing out. Birthdays were sometimes celebrated. Organizational successes were shared without celebration, at least not celebrations that were inclusive of everyone. Anniversaries, work or otherwise, were unknown. Individuals shared only their most profound, work-related success stories. Progress was rarely celebrated.

Though some companies have embraced celebration, the traditional brick-and-mortar, nine-to-five, personal-separate-from-professional view of a workplace environment is far from dead.

Let’s kill it already. Not only should we be celebrating at work, but we should be celebrating the little things. Cake for new clients. Pizza for progress. It doesn’t need to be big or expensive. Any get-together in celebration of a job well done, however large or small, is a good idea.

Happy, connected people make business better, and celebration is a great way to keep employees both happy and connected. Whether you are celebrating an employee’s birthday, a merger, or a step taken along the path to completing an important project, celebration benefits both your employees and your business.

Here are five reasons to make celebration a permanent tradition in your workplace.

1. Celebration reduces stress

Celebration is a formal invitation to take a break from the daily grind of chasing victory. It is an invitation to, instead, appreciate a job well done. Employees are encouraged to focus on what has gone right. Accomplishments are highlighted, leaving to-do lists for later.

Alongside this surge in positive thinking, comes an immediate reduction in stress. Furrowed brows hard at work crunching numbers become light smiles. Hunched-over shoulders relax. Bodies that had been sat at desks for hours stand, stretch, and move in social circles.

The deeper benefits of stress reduction are well documented and include improved cognitive performance, better physical health, and reduced workplace burnout. It also makes for a more pleasant work environment in general.

2. Celebration releases happiness

And by happiness, I mean endorphins, dopamine, serotonin and all the lesser-known chemicals of joy.

Endorphins are the chemical searing through your body when you finish a run. That giddy feeling of being on top of the world? That is endorphins in action. Dopamine is your own personal motivation machine. It is the secret to getting pumped and hitting goals. Serotonin regulates mood. Depression is linked to deficits in serotonin, and healthy levels keep you happy. Endorphins can be triggered by laughter, dopamine by reward, and serotonin by community.

Celebration is a medley of all three triggers. And all three neurotransmitters are likely to make an appearance. The combination helps to build happiness, and also contributes to social bonding.

3. Celebration strengthens teams

Social bonds are the bedrock of teamwork. When you get your team together in a positive environment, you build and solidify these bonds.

Many companies hire team-building experts or organize expensive retreats to keep office bonds strong. While these are excellent strategies to begin the process, one-off experiences are not effective in the long run. Regular celebration can be the glue that keeps people chatting over coffee, laughing over inside jokes, and going the extra mile to help out a coworker.

4. Celebration builds loyalty

Celebration sends a strong, positive message. Celebrating the personal achievements of employees, whether they be birthdays, work anniversaries, or project related, is tangible evidence that a company values its employees and sees them as people worthy of celebration.

Including the whole team in company-driven celebrations, whether you’ve hit a profit goal or signed a big contract, signals that the company’s successes are shared. It is public acknowledgment of the joint efforts extended. When people are treated as friends and family, when people are credited for their work, they become an integrated, loyal part of your company.

5. Celebration improves productivity

The end result of an organizational culture of celebration is increased productivity. Happy, healthy people with strong social bonds work together well. People who share in the joy of success are more motivated to achieve that success. Celebrating small wins inspires people to conquer all the obstacles between themselves and the big wins.

So break out the party hats and create a culture of celebration in the workplace. You’ll be glad you did, and so will everyone else.



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