Near the beginning of a new year is a great time to start thinking about celebrations and goals for the next year. Celebrating at work creates a sense of community. The recognition motivates employees to give their best to their co-workers. But in the day-to-day drive to get work done, it can be easy to forget to celebrate. Here are six ways that companies are building a culture of celebration.

Celebrate at Work

1. Set and Celebrate Goals – go from SQAGs to BHAGs

Ever feel burnt out trying to accomplish those BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals – made famous in the book Built to Last)? I do. Setting BHAGs is great – and celebrating them is a no brainer. But too often it takes too long to achieve them, or leaders set one after another and teams never quite attain them.

Vince Lombardi Quote on Teamwork

So also set a less talked about type of goal: Small Quickly Attainable Goals (SQAGs - pron. "skwag")! These are goals that your team can almost certainly attain relatively quickly – often on the journey to trying to accomplish their BHAG. Your celebration can be lower-key, but a celebration nonetheless.

2. Make Celebration a Process

If you try to remember to celebrate, you almost certainly never will. So make it a process. Have a monthly birthday celebration, and review annual and project goals weekly. Decide up-front how the team will reward itself for attaining goals.

3. Make it Personal – Not Trivial

The danger with making celebration a process is that it can become trivial. The monthly birthday celebration turns into nothing more than "free cake day" each month. So put a little extra effort into every celebration to make it more engaging. At the birthday celebration, have 1 or 2 people propose a toast or offer a favorite memory of the person being celebrated. At SQAG parties (did I really just say that?) ask the team to share stores about the journey to attaining the goal, and their vision for attaining the next one.

4. Don't Wait for "Done"

Celebrate Milestones

Speaking of milestones – don't wait for something to be entirely "done" before you celebrate. Projects in our complex world tend to have a long tail of loose ends to tie up during which other projects are ramping up. By the time a project is truly complete, it may seem like the time for celebration has slipped by. So identify important milestones and plan to celebrate them.

5. Volunteer as a Team

Volunteering is not exactly celebrating, but it has a significant impact on creating a sense of community within a team, and improves the sense of well-being for all those who participate. And, after the volunteering is over, the team should plan a celebration together. It's important for people to connect to a higher sense of purpose, particularly in businesses where it is difficult to connect daily work to a difference at a human level.

6. Celebrate in Challenging Times

The hardest time to celebrate is when an organization is going through hard times. But this can be the most important time to find a reason to celebrate. Celebration restores some optimism, optimism leads to a more engaged team, and that leads to better sales and harder work. Work together to find reasons to celebrate.


How are you celebrating as a team?  What is a simple process you can introduce to create a culture that celebrates?