I love my birthday! I try 364 days out of the year to not be selfish... I try to be there for my husband, my kids, my friends, and colleagues. I like to think that I am even successful.
All of that goes out of the window on my birthday. I want to do what I want to do... that's all. One year I scheduled a full day at the spa... when my husband and kids came to pick me up I was enjoying a glass of wine and a pedicure - it was bliss.
In my family, when I grew up, your birthday was your day - you could choose what you did, what you want to eat, what kind of cake, all of the good stuff. And that is important for me to share with my husband and kids. Sometimes it is hard to make ALL of the decisions, but so be it - it is your day!
All that said, I don't necessarily want people to know it is my birthday. Most years I take the day off of work. A few years ago, I came in to help my colleague onboard 20 interns. She handled all of the heavy lifting, and I took a back seat and ensured all of the paperwork was taken care of... then... at stretch and flex she shared with everyone in the office that it was my birthday. Argh... really!?! I did NOT want that.
Your office may have your own traditions, you may all sign a card, get a cake, decorate someone's cubicle, hit the bar across the street, whatever it is. But it is important to remember that not everyone celebrates birthdays.
Maybe it is religious reasons, maybe they want to keep that piece of information private to them. Whatever the reason, it is important to respect that and not apply pressure to "join in." While you and the majority of your office may love to celebrate birthdays, there are those out there that don't.
So what do you do? Here are wo easy solutions:
Ask your employees if they would like their birthday celebrated, and
If so, what would be best (and give them options, a card, decorations, an announcement, just a private email from their manager)
By asking your employees and taking action on their preferences you enable them to help shape their experience. Thus, improving the experience for your employees!