Don’t cancel the party! How celebrating now (and all through the year) can bring back joy

Employee Experience Inspiration

The pandemic has flung us from grieving to languishing to burnout. It has taken a heavy toll on our society, on individuals, and on our institutions. It has quite literally sucked the life and energy out of so many of us. Our heads are buried in deadlines, deliverables, and meeting after meeting, after meeting. We are overwhelmed, worried, and lonely. It sucks.

Last month I wrote about the importance of gratitude in shifting our perspective. This month I have another research-backed recommendation and it just happens to be the perfect time of year to talk about it. It’s the importance of celebration.


Why celebrating is important

Taking the time to celebrate with your team is more than just a nice thing to do, it’s essential for fostering connection, maintaining momentum, and nurturing a high-performing team where everyone thrives.

With so many people languishing or struggling with mental health, loneliness, and burnout, a celebration can breathe new life into your team. Celebrating together can also highlight positive behaviours and mindsets, reinforce things like purpose and psychological safety, and energize and empower your team. It’s an important investment and the right thing to do.


Consider one or more elements in planning your celebration:


Add play

Infuse your celebration with fun and play. Nothing lights up the brain like play and research has shown that people are designed by nature to flourish through play and are wired to play throughout our lifetime. In Brené Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection, she talks about the work of Dr. Stuart Brown the author of the book, Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul. Doesn’t invigorating the soul sound like the perfect antidote to languishing and burnout? Understanding this research and the importance of play, inspired me to include play as an important ingredient in planning a celebration that empowers your team, creates richer experiences, and builds stronger connections.


Align it with your organization’s purpose

Purpose (meaningful work) has been proven to help people survive and thrive in challenging and uncertain times. Find a way of incorporating your organization’s purpose or take time in the celebration to share your personal purpose. For example, you can ask team members to reflect and share stories related to their personal purpose. You might also consider how your celebration can contribute to your organization’s social purpose. For example, if your company has pledged to reduce its carbon footprint, make sure that your event supports this goal rather than working against it. More than ever, employees are belief-driven with deeply held values, and adding an element of purpose to your celebration supports alignment and can help make your celebration more meaningful.


Make it inclusive

If you can’t all get together in person, make it a remote event. While not impossible, it would be difficult to create a truly inclusive hybrid celebration. Also, make sure that you plan an activity that encourages participation and gets everyone involved. You can do this by planning the event together. If it is a larger, company-wide celebration then put together a team that represents diverse groups and personalities. This reduces the risk of organizing a celebration that excludes certain groups of people or individuals while making sure people feel a sense of ownership in the celebration.


Find new things to celebrate

We often celebrate the obvious such as Christian holidays, the completion of a project, or a milestone work anniversary. Get creative by celebrating something different –  an unfamiliar holiday, a failure or mistake the team has made, or a completely random reason. By switching things up, you can cultivate new rituals while learning and growing together as a team. One idea is to explore and share different holiday traditions as a team. You can share different foods, recipes, traditions, and the stories behind the traditions (why are there are nine candlesticks on the Hanukkah Menorah). These stories, which can include personal reflections of holidays with family can be a wonderful learning experience but also an opportunity to build deeper personal connections with others.


Cancel your burnout culture

In burnout cultures where an employee’s worthiness is tied to the number of hours worked or the number of items completed on the project plan, a celebration will only be another thing on the to-do list. It will be viewed as a waste of time and cause even more stress and that’s not a good thing. I’ll be the first to admit that I am a nose-to-the-grindstone kind of person. I grew up on a farm and play was only allowed after the chores were done and it has taken a lot of personal work to understand that rest and relaxation are important. I’ve tackled the topic of burnout in a previous blog, but I do believe that encouraging celebration in a hustle culture will only backfire and so it is important to be mindful of mixed messages.


The role of internal communications and leaders

This is a blog for internal communications professionals and leaders, and I hear you saying, “this sounds great, but what’s my role?” That’s honestly a good question so I have some suggestions (although I’m sure you can come up with your own ideas now that you understand how important celebration is for sparking joy and connection.

  • Be an advocate for celebrating
  • Tell stories about the celebrations you’ve had in your organization and the difference they made
  • Share ideas for meaningful, fun, and playful celebration (virtual and in-person)
  • Put aside your own ideas of why you need to be busy and instead take time to celebrate


My research has reinforced my own experience that taking time to celebrate, play, laugh, dance, and just be silly has the power to transform work into something that is a source of energy, fulfillment, and joy. How about adding some celebration into your workplace – not just in December but every day?

Integrating celebration within your organization’s workplace culture will help create an environment where your employees can thrive. If you are stuck and looking for ideas as to how you can incorporate celebration and play in your team, send us a message. We would love to help!

From the whole team at Vision2Voice, we hope you have a relaxing and restful holiday season. See you in the New Year!