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Happy Birthday emails

What do you say when you wish a colleague a happy birthday?

In the modern business world, we have contact with a lot of people on a day-to-day basis. We all have one thing in common: birthdays! Wishing a colleague a happy birthday is a great opportunity to strengthen your relationship with them. Regardless of the company or the culture, it is nice to be wished a happy birthday.

I am sure you have had that sinking feeling when you realize that you have missed someone’s birthday. As a manager, I feel that it is important to wish my colleagues (this includes people that report to me and people I report to) a happy birthday. If I didn’t do it, I would be concerned that people would be offended and my relationships would suffer.

It is easy to wish your friends a happy birthday but how do you do it professionally to colleagues?

We don’t tend to say “congratulations” to people on their birthdays. The only time we might say it is when someone turns 18 or 100!

 writing emails that people read

Some example emails you could use:


Dear Mr. Smith,

I am writing to wish you a happy birthday. I hope that you enjoy the day.

Many happy returns!

Kind regards,



Hi Phil,

I just wanted to drop you a quick line to wish you a very happy birthday!

I hope you have a great day.

Take care,


Belated (nachträglich)

Hi Phil,

I just wanted to wish you a happy belated birthday. I am sorry I didn’t contact you yesterday, I was on a business trip in Poland and didn’t have internet access or network on my phone.

Did you have a good day?

Let’s catch up soon,

Best wishes,



Happy birthday to you

It makes people feel valued if you remember an important day in their lives. A simple wish as happy birthday strengthens relationships and can avoid potential offence. I have found it useful to keep a record of people’s birthdays on my Outlook calendar. That way, I don’t have to worry about forgetting.

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1 reply
  1. Jennie Wright
    Jennie Wright says:

    This is a great article Jonny and I agree that it’s really important to celebrate birthdays in business to help develop relationships. For me, I always make sure I check the cultural dos and don’ts of birthdays when I work internationally as cultural norms change from country to country. It makes it harder if expectations regarding presents and cake (and of course language) differ from place to place. In my experience, find out first before buying cake!

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