Workplace celebration is fun, but how often do you remember it? And who’s got time to organise that stuff?

I’m going to try to convince you that you should bother.

Every workplace I’ve ever been has constant stretch, change, challenges and that just increases with every passing month. We used to look for leaders who could adapt to change: now it’s change or be gone. Leaders now need an appetite for change, they need to see around corners.

Fatigue in this environment is hard to avoid. Particularly since most people in the workplace still find the stretch exhausting. I call it Stretch Torture.

Stretch Torture

You’ll find the same with a physical stretch. Reach for the stars, up on tippy toes for 10 seconds. It feels great, right?

Keep holding it for another 30 seconds. How’s it feeling? Keep going, another minute. Actually we’re not there yet, we’re going to need to keep stretching for another 5 minutes… then 2 more. How’s it feeling now?

This is how change feels. We don’t start out expecting to have to stretch so long, so we don’t build small celebrations into the mix. But by planning for interim celebrations along the way, teams are more united and engaged in the process.

We know that positive workplace cultures are more productive, that they encourage collaboration. The team who celebrates together works well together.

Is your team stuck in a pattern of only celebrating over Friday night drinks, though? If so, it’s time to find a celebration that suits your cause AND your team.


use workplace celebration to combat stretch torture


Celebrating wins lets everyone FEEL that they’re achieving.

Devon Still is an NFL Pro Footballer (just retired). He retired to help his 5 year old daughter through cancer. They beat it. Devon’s central strategy was celebrating the wins. They broke the journey down into critical steps. He knew if they nailed every little milestone, then the biggest goal would be taken care of. So every little win along the way, they celebrated like they’d won the Superbowl.

When I share this story with business leaders and I ask them “how do you celebrate the wins with your team?”

The answer is silence. There’s shock as people realise they’re just not doing it!

We get so caught up in the planning and the execution, we rarely look back at ground covered, outside of reporting.

Ok, so let’s put some strategies in place. How do we do this?

You Gotta Know Where You’re Heading.

What’s the big goal? That corporate strategy you’re aligned to. The team’s big, scary, ‘chase that down’ target that half of them maybe doubt you’ll reach.

What are the Interim Milestones?

What are the steps in the process? Are there interim markers you can recognise as important? Smaller deliverables?

Is stakeholder feedback on the way going to provide evidence that you’re on track?

Or is it purely a time thing? Each week down is another week closer to holding the fort?

What Does It For THIS Team?

It’s tempting to order pizza for lunch, if that’s what you’ve always done (back when you used to celebrate success perhaps)… but in 2018 you need to innovate as a standard.

The first and only rule is to start with your audience, not your own preferences.

What is your team into? Are there any common themes that you can tie together, by way of celebration? Are there particular types of food that unite you? Is it a diversity of food that unites you? Can you get takeout from a variety and book a dedicated space to share time together.

Some teams dive headlong into day spas or laser tag, for others it might be an art class or cooking school.

If your team is outgoing, consider a friendly competition. Barefoot bowls works brilliantly in Australia, because it’s accessible for all levels of fitness and mobility.

Let the team know you’d like to discuss celebrating wins, and that you’d like their input. Given them some notice, to research some options. Then brainstorm it.. or silent vote it, depending on the level of mutiny / cohesion you’re working with 🙂

Add in a Team Build Activity

Accept the 3-second cringe for the outstanding benefits an activity offers. Yep, most people cringe at the idea initially, but they all get into it if you chose the right activity. The biggest upside is the outcome. You want people to engage on a more personal level. Activities broaden the conversation from a purely task-focused, workflow level.

Mark Tait, Group Executive at Investa recounts how, in an earlier role as Operations Manager for the construction of the Comm Games Village in Melbourne, he’d bring the entire disparate team together every Friday to do the newspaper crossword.

Now according to Mark, this was a group with conflicting priorities and polarised perspectives. And while they weren’t all that into the crossword to start with, there was more done for team dynamics over that weekly crossword session, than any other strategy employed.

How would you incorporate that idea into a celebration?  See the reason the crossword worked for Mark’s team, is For something indoors and more cerebral, The Big Book of Team Coaching Games is one of my go-to resources. You’ll find a bunch to choose from, that suit where your team is currently at. In addition to be at a point of celebration of course!

Got Nothing to Celebrate?

Ooh I know some of you are thinking it, I’ve worked with you!

Your job is more immediate action. You need to get busy seeking positive feedback. Trawl through the emails, go and speak with your stakeholders. Whether you’re the leader or an influencer on the rise, doing this for an under-noticed team will set your career aglow. Find reasons to celebrate, find the stories of great impact. Check out this article on being an Inspirational Leader and apply the tips to your team.

Now you’ve found reason to celebrate, check out our Impactful Communication training to learn how to amplify your connection with people. Let’s get engagement soaring.


Cath Nolan is a Corporate Coach and serial business founder. With over 15 years, several thousand participants, hundreds of global brands and a long list of professional speaking gigs in her experience list, Cath’s focus is helping individuals to become the best of themselves, to achieve what’s most important to them. To see more, including free resources, visit

Competence + Confidence + Great Communication = Powerful Impact