Skip to navigation
7 Min Read

How To Celebrate National High Five Day At Work

David Mizne
David Mizne

In 2002, college students at the University of Virginia created National High Five Day, an unofficial national holiday. On this day, strangers can approach each other for high fives without fear of confusion or reprisal. For those of you unfamiliar with this phenomenon, here is a definition from Wikipedia:

The high five is a hand gesture that occurs when two people simultaneously raise one hand each, about head-high, and push, slide, or slap the flat of their palm against the flat palm of the other person. The gesture is often preceded verbally by a phrase like “Gimme five!” or “High five!”

We are taking this opportunity to celebrate the release of a new feature that allows employees to celebrate their co-workers for their contributions. We have creatively dubbed this feature, “The High Five”.

A Brief History of the High Five

According to ESPN, there is some controversy about who invented that prolific hand to hand gesture of approval and joy. Credit is often given to Lamont Sleets Jr., a legendary basketball player at Murray State University. However, it is widely accepted that the first high five was given and returned in Los Angeles on October 2, 1977.  The Dodgers were playing the Houston Astros on the last day of the regular baseball season.

Dusty Baker hit his 30th home run, making the Dodgers the first team in baseball history to have four players who each scored thirty homers in a season. Dodger’s outfielder Glenn Burke was waiting for Baker at home plate with his hand held high. Baker (not knowing what to do) instinctively reached up and hit Burke’s hand, making history in the process. Now here comes the interesting part – Burke went up to bat next and hit his first major league home run ever, proving the awesome power of the high five!

Digital High Fives for the New Millennium

We thought, why not harness the power of camaraderie and shared triumph by redefining high fives in the workplace? After all, who doesn’t love a pat on the back (or the palm) from a manager or colleague? Unfortunately, amidst deadlines, meetings and the other madness of the workweek, we often forget to acknowledge our peers and employees.

That’s why we created the High-Five (the digital version anyway). Employees simply and quickly @Mention a colleague and share why that person earned their praise over the past week. The High Five Dashboard displays all the High Fives throughout the organization, as well as who the top giver and receiver were in a given time period. This helps with morale and also lets managers easily pinpoint their rockstars:


5 High Five Tips from the Pros

1) Remember to always reciprocate your high fives. Ever been left hanging with your hand in the air? This is the #1 high five killer, because nobody wants to go through that embarrassment again. Always acknowledge that a high five was given and send a little love back, if you feel so inspired.

2) High fives are great for remote teams. Remote work is becoming more and more prevalent, so tech companies are responding with communication software and collaboration tools. What often gets left out, is the recognition and appreciation that naturally occurs when in-office employees interact directly with each other on a daily basis.

3. Give more than one. Don’t be stingy with appreciation. In fact, I would recommend going out of your way to acknowledge people outside your primary team. When everyone but a select few are receiving recognition, the people who are overlooked can feel invisible or unimportant.

4. High Fives can be quick. Tick tock, tick tock. Productivity hacking may include cutting corners, but some things are not negotiable. Just like indispensable one-on-one meetings, providing weekly feedback and appreciation influences employee morale, performance, and retention. Five minutes of recognition today could save you hours of interviews and training to replace an unappreciated employee who quits.


5. Give Back. It would be unfair to appropriate someone else’s holiday without at least promoting the charitable contributions associated with it. Click here to participate in the National High Five Day charity challenge. This year, they are raising money to provide arts and athletics to kids with chronic illnesses:

We all have a biological need to be seen for our contributions and our personal and professional evolution. When an employee receives recognition, not only do they learn that they are on the right track, but they are often delighted by the simple act of being seen. So whether you use 15Five or have another virtual method to share the love, send a high five to a colleague today. Hey, it worked wonders for the ’77 Dodgers.

Image CreditBryan Ledgard