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3 Reasons We Need to Celebrate More in the Family business

By Kyle Danner - October 25, 2019

We’re not much for celebrations in my family. Anniversaries, holidays, and birthdays weren't always acknowledged. I remember dad practically grunting, “It’s just another day” when we wished him a happy birthday.* Half joking, half serious, my siblings and I adopted dad’s saying as adults. 

Like him, we directed our attention to other things: a rapidly expanding business, demanding careers, growing kids and aging parents.

But ignoring birthdays and anniversaries isn’t a good thing, and it deprives us of some important things in life, and this is especially the case within the walls of the family business.


Many family business owners strive to keep the family and the business separate. As a result, celebrating family members' birthdays, work anniversaries, or other milestones at the office wouldn't be something they would consider.

I can understand why a business owner would be hesitant to dedicate company time to celebrations, particularly when they don't seem work-related. But I've also experienced the benefits of taking a break from the usual routine to let your employees know how much they are valued.

Celebrations can have an enormous impact on team morale and work quality, whether you take 15 minutes out of your work week to cut cake in the conference room, have a company-wide lunch in honor of the person of the day, or end the day an hour early so everyone can head to happy hour.

Celebrations Have Power and Purpose:

1. They remind us of our achievements.

Sometimes, we focus so intensely on the next thing that we fail to recognize our accomplishments. We ask ourselves, our family, and our team, “What have you done lately?” rather than, "What accomplishment are you most proud of?"

This paints a distorted picture of their work and ours. It can also lead to jaded feelings and uneasiness. Team members may feel like the work they do doesn't really matter, because as soon as they complete a major task, they're immediately pressured about the next one on the list. By taking the time to celebrate achievements, you show your team members how much you appreciate their hard work.

2. They reinforce bonds between people.

We are social beings, and celebrations promote connection with one another. Taking time to strengthen those bonds is an investment we can draw on during times we don’t feel like celebrating. They also show that as business owners, we value our team as more than just an end to a means.

Co-workers can become like family—even if you don't work in a family business. By giving your team members time to celebrate with one another, you allow them to build strong relationships that carry over into their work. Values such as team work, cooperation, and compromise become more evident, and your company morale will improve as well. As an extra bonus, you can take photos of the party and share them on social media to give your followers the opportunity to celebrate with you.

3. It’s a break from the daily grind.

Our days are filled with routine, which is comforting in its predictability. Yet doing the same thing again and again can lead to a stagnant work environment. Employees may become burnt out and look for other job opportunities, or they may feel like they have no way to de-stress.

A celebration allows us to push the pause button on life so we can step away. We can laugh a little, take a short break from our to-do list, and breathe. Then, we can return to our routine refreshed and reenergized, ready to get back to work.

Bonus: It’s a perfectly valid reason to eat cake.

This reason speaks for itself. Who doesn't love a big slice of birthday cake? 


How to Celebrate Milestones in Your Family Business

A celebration does not have to mean a big production.  For your business, consider doing any of the following:

  • A company potluck to acknowledge landing a client
  • A family dinner to honor the founding anniversary of the business
  • A cake-off/bake-off between departments following a major product launch
  • An annual family retreat to reflect on the year’s accomplishments

It’s important to recognize milestones and achievements of everyone involved in the business. You don't want anyone to feel like they aren't included or valued. Be sure you do the same types of celebrations for each individual as well. Keep it fair.

If your business has less than ten employees, celebrating every birthday and anniversary can be an easy task. When you have a larger business, however, the idea of celebrating every person can feel overwhelming. Designate one person on your team who loves event planning to organize all the special events. If it's too big of a project for one person to handle, you could assign each employee a month to plan birthdays and events. 

To make it easier, you can create a simple spreadsheet with rows for each employee's birthday, work anniversary date, favorite type of cake, favorite restaurant, or other helpful information related to their celebration. You can share this with your team and have everyone share their thoughts. That way, their birthday or work anniversary celebration will feel more personalized and special to them (and you don't have to remember whether Carol prefers chocolate or red velvet cake). Here's a template you can copy and use for your business.

Celebrate the Little Things & Big Things Will Come

Taking time to celebrate a big company win or a new baby or the World Series says you realize that it is people who are making your business work.  Trust me, your business won’t be negatively impacted if everyone wears their sports team colors on Friday or if you have a chili cook off for the third shift because it’s the second Thursday of the month.

What can you celebrate in the coming weeks? Anytime you can press pause, remind and reconnect is beneficial. A celebration shows that what we do and who we are in family and business matters.

Want more tips for running a successful family business? Visit my resources page. You'll find ebooks, an online course, free downloadable guides, videos, and much more.

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READ NEXT: Why You Can't Take Personal out of the Family Business

*Dad was a retired USMC gunnery sergeant. He believed the Marine Corps birthday on November 10 was the only birthday that mattered. In case you’re wondering, they celebrate with cake too



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