Deborah Galea

Deborah Galea is a Product Marketing Professional with 15+ years of experience working in the enterprise software industry and is specialized in positioning and launching B2B software and SaaS products. Deborah co-founded the email security company Red Earth Software which was acquired by OPSWAT in 2014.

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Valentine’s Day is usually associated with chocolate and flowers, but it’s also a great time to show appreciation in the workplace! Don’t miss this opportunity to celebrate the strong (platonic) bonds between coworkers. Remember giving your schoolmates cards and those chalky, not-very-tasty candy hearts to celebrate? You’re all grown up now, but it’s still a great day to appreciate your team.

Unfortunately, a shocking 79% of employees don’t feel engaged at work. So why not use Valentine’s Day to recognize your team in a fun and appropriate way? By making your team feel appreciated, you can increase engagement—research shows that engaged employees are more productive and less likely to seek out a new job.

🔥 Recognize your team this holiday!

Why celebrating Valentine’s Day at work is a great opportunity

Not convinced yet? Here are five ways celebrating Valentine’s Day can positively impact your team:

  • Improve camaraderie: Celebrating together and engaging in joint activities (virtual works too!) can boost team morale, spark a feeling of togetherness, and make employees feel more engaged.
  • Promote appreciation: Employees feel rewarded and motivated when someone takes the extra effort to let them know they're appreciated.
  • Increase positivity: Simple team activities, like decorating cookies and playing bingo, can decrease stress levels, encourage creativity, and most importantly, increase positivity in the workplace.
  • Encourage a caring environment: By celebrating Valentine’s Day in an inclusive way, teams can foster a caring environment, where individuals feel psychologically safe.
  • Brighten the mood: This time of year can be particularly challenging for many people, falling shortly after Blue Monday. By organizing some fun Valentine’s Day celebrations, you can lift the mood and spread some cheer.

14 Valentine’s Day celebration ideas for the workplace

It’s easy to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your entire team. Here are 14 inclusive ways to enjoy the holiday at work:

1. Host or order breakfast

Grab some bagels, fruit, and pastries for the office, or order your team their favorite breakfast dishes if you're working remotely. If you choose the office route, decorate a table with a Valentine’s Day tablecloth, flowers, and scattered paper hearts. 


2. Share goody bags

Fill goody bags for every employee with candy, gift cards, and handwritten notes. Add some sustainable company swag while you're at it. Don’t forget the dietary restrictions and preferences of the team!

valentines at work

3. Decorate the office (or home office)

Pinterest is calling. Place pink, red, and white balloon bouquets around the office, or ship them to your employees' homes. Share heart decals for computer monitors and streamers to decorate chairs. Take it a step further by ordering edible flower arrangements!


4. Gift candy mason jars

Leave mason jars filled with candy treats on desks as a nice morning surprise, or send them to your team. It's easy: fill a mason jar with candy and chocolates, cover the top with a Valentine’s Day cupcake wrapper, and add a colorful ribbon. Attach a fun note, and place a sticker on the jar with each person’s name to make it personal.

P.S. You don't need a holiday like Employee Appreciation Day to appreciate your employees! Find our big list of Creative Employee Rewards here!


5. Start late

Invite your team to start work later than normal to focus on themselves, partners, friends, or family. You’ll find your team more refreshed and ready to tackle the day.


6. Host a tea party

Whether it's in-person or virtual, bring heart-shaped cookies, prepare a selection of teas, and break out the cucumber sandwiches! Decorate a table with a red tablecloth and scattered hearts. Schedule the tea party for the early afternoon, when everyone’s energy is getting low. Take into account any dietary restrictions and preferences.


7. Make charitable donations

Create a list of five charities, like the Human Rights Campaign, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital,, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and The Humane Society. Place a jar for each charity in the lunchroom along with a short description of the charity. Give each employee a red paper heart with ‘$10’ written on it. Ask everyone to put the paper heart in the jar of their preferred charity to donate $10 from company funds.

Did we mention, Bonusly users have donated over $2,000,000 via our Reward Catalog?!

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8. Play Valentine’s bingo with prizes

Give bingo game sheets and chips to employees who want to participate, and play some office bingo! Prizes can be anything, from gift cards to local restaurants to lunch with the CEO.


9. Offer meditation or yoga instruction

Invite a meditation or yoga instructor during the lunch break to talk about how to introduce mindfulness into your life, and finish with a session for the team. A little relaxation can go a long way.


10. Test your estimation skills

Fill some large jars with candy or chocolates and have everyone guess how many items there are in the jar. (Yep, you can do this on Zoom too!) The closest guess wins and gets to the jar.


11. Set up an Appreciation Bulletin Board

Set up a bulletin board, spread out markers, bring push pins, and hand out paper hearts with the following request: ‘Share some ways you’ve felt appreciated at work’. Leave the board up for the next week to encourage peer recognition. You can also create a virtual board!

Make this Valentine’s Day one that your team will remember!


12. Decorate your own cookies

Bake or buy heart-shaped sugar cookies (or alternatives based on dietary restrictions/preferences), and place them in the lunchroom for employees to decorate throughout the day. Provide sprinkles, different colors of icing tubes, and candy for decorating. Offer cellophane bags and colorful ribbons for those who want to take their cookies home or gift them. Alternatively, bake together with your team using cookie-baking kits!


13. Recognize great work publicly

Consider using an employee recognition and rewards program like Bonusly to show your peers appreciation publicly and offer your team a huge catalog of rewards. Remind your team that Valentine’s Day is a great day to share their appreciation with colleagues. 💚




14. Provide 15-minute massages

Bring in a professional masseuse or masseur, and offer 15-minute massages. Massages can reduce stress, improve morale, and decrease injuries.

And don’t forget your remote workers! Send them an e-card, mail them a goody bag, and invite them to participate in Valentine’s Day activities using online video conferencing.

Make this Valentine’s Day one that your team will remember and look forward to next year!


Many people are eager to celebrate their birthdays. And if someone’s birthday falls on a weekday, they’ll be spending a precious chunk of that day at work.

So the question isn’t, “Should companies celebrate their employees’ birthdays?” Rather, companies should be asking how they should celebrate employees’ birthdays. Being thoughtful about birthday celebrations—even if it’s making the decision to not throw a party for those colleagues who would rather not acknowledge their birthdays—can make a difference in how an employee thinks about their workplace.

That’s because birthdays are one of life’s epiphany moments, along with other major milestones like work anniversaries and class reunions. You might be surprised to learn that birthdays are actually one of the three days that employees are most likely to quit their jobs. With retention on our minds, employers shouldn’t take birthday celebrations too lightly. These events are opportunities to better engage and appreciate employees.

Share these ideas with your team with a PDF! Download our resource How to Celebrate Employee Birthdays in the Workplace!

Jump straight to our list of birthday celebration ideas

Why are birthdays epiphany moments?


Epiphany moments are dates or events that cause people to reexamine their life choices. What makes birthdays a natural time to reflect on our lives and career? For many people, adding another year to their life prompts internal reflection. It’s a day when people often take a step back and evaluate the progress of their lives—the good and the bad.

Reaching a life milestone

Many people have a rough idea of the roadmap of their lives, like being a certain age when they get married, or be promoted to a leadership role, or buying their first home. That’s what makes birthdays a great time to reflect on the previous year of their life. Did they reach their goals? What was the highest high and lowest low of the previous year? In this way, birthdays are a time to contemplate current circumstances.

Catching up with friends and family

People love to celebrate with others, so birthdays are typically a time for loved ones to gather and celebrate! Playing catch-up can prompt a number of questions about job status, relationships, and health—you know how families get! 😉

Employees could consider whether they were venting the same work grievances last year. Did it improve or is it still the same? Since birthdays are such a milestone, these questions seem heavier—and their answers more meaningful.

Comparison with others

There always seems to be a teenage wunderkind in the media, or a new youngest billionaire ever. As we get older, it’s natural to feel anxious about our accomplishments, especially in comparison to others in the same peer group.

3 benefits of recognizing employee birthdays

How can you apply knowledge of how birthdays can be an epiphany moment to the workplace? The simple act of recognizing an employee’s birthday is first and foremost a nice thing to do but also contributes to the employee experience in a number of ways.

1. Reduce turnover

According to a study published in the Harvard Business Review, job search activities jump 12% just before birthdays. Giving an employee special attention on their birthday makes them feel valued and recognized, and employees who feel appreciated are less likely to quit their jobs.

2. Enhance employee engagement

Showing appreciation on an employee’s birthday makes the individual feel rewarded and increases their emotional commitment to the company and its goals. This increase in employee engagement results in improved work motivation and dedication, positively impacting your company’s bottom line. Research shows that engaged companies see 23% higher profitability and 18% higher sales. 

3. Increase happiness and productivity

Receiving a little bit of extra attention on your birthday from your employer and co-workers makes you feel cared for and part of a team. This promotes happiness and reduces stress and burnout. According to research, happy employees are 12% to 20% more productive than their unhappy counterparts.

Share these ideas with your team with a PDF! Download our resource How to Celebrate Employee Birthdays in the Workplace!

Characteristics of a successful employee birthday program


Since the stakes are high, employee birthdays should be celebrated with special attention to detail. The secret? Automation, combined with the right level of customization. A successful employee birthday program has the following characteristics:


Writing HAGS is fun in middle school, but now, you should really put more thought into a personal message than just “HB." Include appreciation for recent work they’ve done, a funny anecdote, or the impact their presence has made on your life to make the birthday-person feel extra special.


When celebrating birthdays in the workplace, it is important to ensure that no employee gets left out. It may be worth adding employee birthdays to a central calendar during the onboarding process instead of simply leaving the dates in your HRIS. Also, be sure to include remote workers in birthday celebrations, too. Key people, such as managers and team members, should receive notifications of upcoming birthdays. Employee reward platforms are great tools for automating birthday reminders and notifications, offloading HR managers from this responsibility.


For religious reasons, not all people celebrate birthdays. Also, some people may just not like their birthday publicly celebrated. When onboarding or getting to know your team members, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to ask how they like to celebrate their next trip around the sun. If they hate calling attention to themselves, a low-key birthday email might be a better idea than a decorated, scheduled event. If they have a specific birthday tradition, it may be thoughtful to bring that tradition to the workplace.


At Bonusly, we champion the idea of “voice and choice.” For a meaningful experience, employees should have the ability to choose their own rewards. When providing gift cards or organizing birthday lunches, be thoughtful about your employees likes and interests—or even ask them for exactly what they want! This way, you can be sure that they’ll enjoy their special day. Employee reward systems let the employee redeem their rewards at a store of their choice.


Not everyone likes their age to be public knowledge and sharing someone’s age without their permission could lead to workplace lawsuits. Be sure not to publicize the employee’s birth year or age when celebrating their birthday. So (although tempting) stay away from cards with “40 today!” on them and steer clear from age jokes or references.

Eight ways to celebrate employee birthdays

Here are eight ways in which you can make employees feel special on their birthdays:

1. Decorate their workspace

Break out the balloons. 🎊🎈🎉

A simple but surefire way to make an employee feel celebrated is by decorating their workspace. Streamers and confetti are always fun, but again—make sure the employee is alright with the attention and potential clean up! It’s also a great idea to take the person’s interests in mind. If someone really loves dogs, plastering their desks with pictures of puppies in birthday hats sounds like an excellent idea.

Are you a fully remote or hybrid team? Then come to your next team meeting with a celebratory Zoom background to make the birthday-person feel celebrated. 

2. Give employee rewards

If your organization uses an employee reward system, you can automatically share rewards on their birthday and invite co-workers to do the same.

3. Organize a team happy hour or birthday lunch

Schedule some time for fun on someone’s birthday! Eating together is a simple way to build stronger team bonds, and being able to celebrate someone at the same time is the *literal* birthday candle on top.

If you're fully remote or hybrid, see if you can send them a gift certificate or credit towards a local lunch of their choice. 🍔

4. Write a note

Nothing beats receiving a personal note on your birthday. This can be a fun greeting card, but can also be an email or kudos in an employee recognition program. Remember: make it personal and meaningful!

5. Share company swag

Birthdays are great times to give out company swag, such as T-shirts, hoodies, caps, and mugs. 

Share these ideas with your team with a PDF! Download our resource How to Celebrate Employee Birthdays in the Workplace!

6. Give gift cards

Gift cards are always a good idea, especially if they’re tailored to an employee’s wishlist or interests. A week before their birthday, ask them to make a few choices from a gift card list from retail stores, local restaurants, bookstores, or movie theaters. Then—this is important—make sure to tell them, “Treat yourself.”


7. Donate to charity

Allow the employee to select the nonprofit organization of their choice, and donate to it in their name for a meaningful and rewarding gift. Bonusly customers can donate to countless organizations directly through our platform.

8. Give them the day off

Many companies with flexible schedules offer to give employees time off on their birthdays. As much as we love our coworkers, allowing someone to spend their special day doing what they want is a big boon to creating a great employee experience.

The takeaway

Any of these celebration ideas are guaranteed to make the employee feel good on their birthday. Of course, companies shouldn’t limit employee appreciation to just birthdays. To be truly successful, companies should continually recognize their employees throughout the year. Employee recognition and rewards programs like Bonusly are a great solution and even include automated birthday awards.

It’s always fun to make someone’s birthday a special day! You’ll make employees feel especially valued and also reduce turnover, enhance employee engagement, and increase productivity. 🤩

Share these ideas with your team with a PDF! Download our resource How to Celebrate Employee Birthdays in the Workplace.


As more organizations hire remote workers to increase their talent pool, companies are trying to set themselves apart by introducing robust remote work programs and employee recognition solutions to attract remote workers and ensure that they are engaged.

So what's it like to work remotely? Having worked remotely myself for three years, I’m excited to discuss the pros and cons.

Working in pajamas at strange hours, with your only human interaction for the day being chat messages and video calls; remote working can be challenging and incredibly freeing at the same time. For me, the flexibility to take a walk to clear your mind, pick up your kids from school, and fit in doctors’ appointments makes for a healthier work-life balance.

Advantages and disadvantages of working remotely

The Owl Labs Global State of Remote Work reports that employees who work remotely at least once a month are actually 24% happier than those who never work remotely. Why might remote workers be happier than their office counterparts? As a remote worker, you are more in control of your own work life. Since you are essentially in charge of filling your own workday, you need to be more self-motivated and organized than your office-bound colleagues. Perhaps this combination of freedom and discipline is why remote workers report being happier.


Based on remote work research and personal experience, here are some of the pros and cons of remote work:


1. Flexibility: The State of Remote Work 2018 Report from Buffer states that their survey respondents listed a flexible schedule as the biggest advantage of remote work. As a remote worker, you can decide your own work times. Of course you usually need to be available during normal working hours, but with a flexible work schedule, you can also get your work done in the evening or at weekends, if that's more convenient.

2. Energy: Working from home avoids the need to commute to and from work, often freeing up at least one hour every day. You think less about how you look and dress and more about being comfortable and productive. Being in your own space has the potential to make you feel more relaxed, saving energy and making you feel less tired at the end of the day.

3. Focus: When working remotely, many find there to be fewer distractions, enabling more productivity and increased job satisfaction.


1. Loneliness: Although you may have online meetings and calls, you miss out on spontaneous conversations and office banter. According to Buffer’s State of Remote Work 2018 Report, 21% of respondents found loneliness to be their biggest struggle with working remotely.

2. Getting out less: As a remote worker, you may find yourself with much more time at home, which can become dreary after a while. Sometimes it’s nice to be in a different environment, like a coworking space or coffee shop.

3. Feeling left out: When attending online meetings, you may not understand certain projects or jokes made in the office since you're missing context, which can sometimes make you feel more isolated.



How to be a happy and successful remote worker

Whether you're currently working remotely or are considering making the leap, here are 10 tips to make the most of the wonderful opportunity of working remotely

1. Prioritize purpose in your work: When working remotely, it is even more important to derive meaning from your job since you're missing the camaraderie and personal contact that can give you purpose. No matter what your job is, whether in marketing, engineering, or technical support, there are always ways to find purpose in your work. Think about who is ultimately benefiting from your efforts. Perhaps you helped a customer solve their issue or wrote a useful article. Work is no longer the means to an end, and intrinsic motivators are more powerful today than ever before.

Employers play an important role in helping remote workers feel recognized, too. Once, when I reached the substantial goal of launching a new website, my boss called me to say how happy he was with the end result. He shared how my contribution had played a large role in its success. He said that since he knew I was not in the office, I might not pick up on all the excitement and positive comments the marketing team was getting, so he wanted to call me to tell me himself. As you can imagine, this made me feel very appreciated.

Need more inspiration? Purpose expert Zach Mercurio shares ways to discover purpose while working remotely in 3 Proven Ways to Discover Purpose When You Have a Home Business.

2. Be clear on expectations: Make sure you understand what is expected from you, and take the initiative instead of just waiting for your manager. After finishing a meeting, it's a good idea to follow up with an email and sum up what actions you'll take or provide a summary of the assignment. It's always better to err on the side of being too specific; since you're working remotely, some things may be interpreted differently than you intended. By being more specific, you can avoid miscommunication.


3. Communicate progress: Make it easy for others to see your progress on agreed-upon tasks. According to TalentLMS's remote work statistics survey, the most popular collaborative tools were Skype and Dropbox. These tools, and others like Slack, make it easier for your remote team manager and colleagues to receive an update on your progress whenever they need it.

4. Have regularly scheduled online meetings: If you're working on a project with other team members, it's important to have regularly scheduled meetings. This creates opportunities to talk with team members about items that otherwise wouldn't come up.

5. Meet in person at regular intervals: Even though you can be very effective working remotely, it is important to meet the team in person every now and then. It is much easier to get to know your colleagues on a personal level when meeting face-to-face, which helps you better understand team dynamics. Whether once a month, quarter, or half-year, it's useful to have a regular cadence of visitation with your team. In this way, everyone knows what to expect, and certain activities can be planned during your visit. If remote workers are in the minority, meeting in the office is usually the best setting. If you have a fully-remote team, an offsite retreat is a great solution.

6. Have a friend in the office: When I started working remotely, I instantly formed a good relationship with a new colleague. He realized that I might be missing out on certain things since I was remote, and he took it upon himself to keep me up to date. For instance, he would let me know if there was any feedback from other departments on our work that I may have missed, and he would share company news discussed in the office that wasn't always shared formally.


If you don't already have strong relationships with coworkers, consider trying something like Quuu's weekly buddy system, which has had a significant impact on their team's productivity and happiness.

7. Take regular breaks: Since you'll likely have fewer distractions as a remote worker, you can end up sitting at your desk too long. Get up every hour, grab some fresh air, and set an alarm at the end of the day to avoid working too long. Make sure you get enough physical activity too. Read up on the different ways to avoid being too sedentary.

8. Designate a separate workspace: Preferably this is a separate room, coworking space, or favorite coffee shop. It's important to have your own space where you can work without distraction when family members or roommates come home. Separating business and personal space can also help put you in a better mindset for getting work done.

9. Combat loneliness: It's easy to feel some loneliness when working alone all day. To combat this, I like to listen to NPR radio. I have the radio on in my living room but away from my main workspace. Then, when I take a break or have my lunch, I listen to the news and discussions, which makes me feel engaged as a remote worker. In addition, I actively seek out social contact, not only with family members but also with other members of the community.

Think about using a coworking space and signing up for to see if there are any interesting groups you can join. Book clubs, hiking groups, and professional groups are all great opportunities to meet people while doing the things you love. If you don’t see a group you like, you can always start your own.

10. Have a routine, but be flexible: A great perk of remote work is your flexibility. This means that if evenings or weekends work better for you, you can take advantage of that. However, it's helpful to have a routine and work at set times. That will also make it much easier for your colleagues to collaborate with you.

Is your company considering growing their remote workforce? Read more about remote work in Bonusly's Comprehensive Guide to Remote Work.



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