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How to Create Birthday Reminders at Work

Jul 11, 2021| Reading time: 6min

BY Alex Hilleary

Principal Content Marketing Manager

Birthday reminders are only helpful if they make you take action.

I set my personal birthday reminders on a recurring to-do list. For most friends and family members— the cousins and the old friends— I get a notification on the day of their birthday. The day-of reminder gives me time to send a quick text or email with a celebratory message. It works the same way as Facebook birthday reminders did, back in 2012 when we were on Facebook every day.

For my closest friends and family members, it’s a little bit different. I set two recurring reminders.  The first is a week-and-a-half before their birthday. This bump gives me the buffer time I need to buy a gift. The second is the same day-of reminder to text or call.

When it comes to birthday reminders in the workplace, we should be similarly thoughtful about how to set them up. We need to think about what framework will drive the right actions at the right times.

Where to create birthday reminders

For workplace birthday reminders, you should use a tool where you can guarantee that they will be read. Ideally, it’s a spot where you can also filter reminders to go to the right people. Don’t make Jim waste time noting it’s Osman’s birthday when the cross-department co-workers have never met.

Why to use Slack (or Teams) for birthday reminders

We recommend using your workplace communication tool— like Slack or Teams— for your birthday calendars. Since your team lives in these tools, they are the only place you can guarantee people see the reminder.

Plus, by building a simple, automated reminder workflow, you can ensure that birthday reminders only go to the right people— like managers and teammates of the birthday person.

Why not to use Google Calendar for birthday reminders

Tools like Google Calendar and HRIS integrations make it easy to add additional holiday calendars so you might have a natural inclination to create a birthday calendar with the entire organization’s birthdays.

In reality, your calendar app isn’t the best place for birthdays at work. Here’s why:

  • Any given person at your company only cares about a handful of birthdays for those they work with regularly. Making them sort through the hundreds of birthdays for the ones that matter is a pain.
  • People don’t like to keep other calendars turned on.
  • Birthday calendars don’t let you prepare for a birthday in advance.

Why not to use email for birthday reminders

Many HRIS platforms send automated emails about upcoming birthdays on a monthly or weekly cadence. For People teams and companies that celebrate birthdays in monthly celebrations, these emails might be helpful.

For the individual team member or manager, emails aren’t the ideal platform because:

  • With batched emails, you make people search through a lot of birthdays that are irrelevant to find the ones they want. This annoying process leads people to ignore emails altogether.
  • If a person’s birthday is on the 1st of the month, it might be too late by the time someone catches the email. If a birthday is on the 29th, it’s too far away and will likely be forgotten.
  • Even in a best case scenario, this just leads to someone taking the reminder and putting it on a separate to-do list.

What birthday reminders should you set up?

Birthday reminders for a manager

Set a reminder for a manager a week in advance, giving them time to make the day special with a gift, card, or birthday treat. Then remind them once again when the day comes.

Complexity: Easy

Data Needed: Birthday, Manager Relationship

Birthday reminders for teammates

Remind direct teammates of the birthday person on the morning of the birthday.

Complexity: Easy

Data Needed: Birthday, Team Groups

Birthday reminders for relevant stakeholders

Before a birthday, prompt a manager to select the birthday person’s friends, colleague’s and teammates who might be interested in knowing about the birthday. Spin up an automated temporary Slack channel to remind the group about the birthday and let them coordinate.

Complexity: Medium

Data Needed: Birthday, Manager Relationship

Birthday reminders to leaders

A birthday message from a company leader can be particularly impactful. Set up a simple direct message to the CEO or relevant department head to give them a chance to recognize an employee’s birthday if they get the chance.

Complexity: Easy

Data Needed: Birthday, Department Head Relationship

Birthday reminders for the People Ops Coordinator

If you are the type of team that likes to celebrate in the office together, remind yourself a week before the birthday to get started on the preparations.

Complexity: Easy

Data Needed: Birthday

Birthday reminders for a public channel

For an easy option, send birthday reminders to a public #celebrations channel that allows everyone to see and comment.

Complexity: Easy

Data Needed: Birthday

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