It’s vital to recognize and appreciate your employees all year long, but it’s especially important to make plans to celebrate them on Employee Appreciation Day. National Employee Appreciation Day is a time where, at least once a year, you thank your employees for their hard work. And after a challenging year, showing your appreciation and gratitude for your people this year is more important than ever.
Why celebrate employees on Employee Appreciation Day? By showing employees they are valued, you increase employee engagement, boost employee morale, become more of a great place to work, and build a company culture where employees thrive.
How do you celebrate Employee Appreciation Day? Consider these 10 creative Employee Appreciation Day ideas so you can start showing employees how much they truly matter.
1. Celebrate employees as soon as the workday starts.
Don’t wait until lunchtime to celebrate your people. Start with a thoughtful appreciation note in their email as soon as they log into work. Have more messages of appreciation on your intranet site and social media accounts. Hang banners and posters at the entrance for your on-site people to see as soon as they arrive at the workplace.
2. Go virtual.
Recognizing employees virtually doesn’t mean appreciating remote workers has to be boring. You can still celebrate Employee Appreciation Day with remote employees by showing appreciation from afar. Send them a heartfelt emailed note in the morning, have a virtual team meeting where you celebrate team successes mid-day, send lunch, and then end the day with a personal gift mailed to their home. These are great ways to celebrate remote employees and help them feel connected to the organization and one another.
3. Write employees a personal letter or note.
Handwrite a personal note or letter for each of your team members and have it waiting in their inbox or at their workstation on Employee Appreciation Day. Include details and be specific in how you express your appreciation. Think about what they bring to the team, what you admire about them, or which projects they’ve worked on this year that made an impact. Highlight their individual employee achievements. They’ll be glad you took the time to notice who they are and what they do.
4. Give a gift with meaning.
What should you give employees for Employee Appreciation Day? Ensure whatever gift you give is meaningful to employees and helps them feel connected to your company. Don’t settle for cheap tokens that employees will throw away. Consider a custom gift that symbolizes your organization’s culture and history. Or a luxury item they can use at home or at work. Even better, offer them a choice of Employee Appreciation gifts that employees love, so they can select something meaningful for themselves.
5. Send lunch.
Have lunch sent to your employees’ home or delivered to the workplace. Then schedule time on the calendar to let your people take a break from work and eat together. Make it a time where you only talk about the great work your teams have done and celebrate the accomplishments you’ve achieved together.
6. Play games.
A fun work environment increases employee job satisfaction. Hopefully, by adding some fun activities, you can make this day feel like anything but a normal working day. Think about hosting an afternoon of games. It could be a trivia game team competition, Bingo, or a scavenger hunt outdoors or virtually. Employees will enjoy celebrating their day with some fun and maybe even a little competition.
7. Celebrate as a team.
Today there are plenty of opportunities to infuse Employee Appreciation Day with ways employees can express their creativity. Based on their interests, try to find a virtual cooking class, painting class, or other fun workshops that will give your team members a much-needed break from their daily responsibilities at work.
8. Surprise them with a treat.
There are endless ideas for Employee Appreciation Day treats. Donuts, cookies, ice cream, flowers, a craft or spa kit…find something that will delight your people and send it as a surprise.
9. Post Employee Appreciation Day quotes.
Prior to the first Friday in March, ask executives and leaders to answer the question, “Why do you appreciate our employees?” Then on Employee Appreciation Day, post those quotes everywhere. Print them on posters. Show them on shared screens in the breakroom. Feature them on the front page of your intranet site. Share them on social media. Email them and include them in Zoom meetings. You’ll surround your employees with inspiration and make them feel invaluable. Check this list of quotes you can start with.
10. Give people a flex day.
Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day in a way every employee wants: give them some time off. Let them finish their workday a couple of hours early or go home after lunch. It won’t hurt your bottom line, but employees will be grateful.
11. (Bonus idea) Recognize every day.
This year, Employee Appreciation Day is March 5th (and some companies celebrate an entire Employee Appreciation Week). But that isn’t the only day you should show appreciation for your people. According to Gallup, employees should be recognized or praised every 7 days. So be sure you have a robust employee recognition program where employees and leaders can recognize and appreciate great work. O.C. Tanner’s Culture Cloud helps companies improve their employee experience, reduce employee turnover, and makes employees feel appreciated, every day.
These are just a few ideas companies can use to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day. But the best Employee Appreciation Day ideas are built on heartfelt appreciation and celebrations full of meaning and a little fun. A huge budget is not required to make the most of this day. People spend hours, days, weeks, months, and years serving your organization—do what you can to make this year’s Employee Appreciation Day one that they’ll remember.
More Employee Recognition Resources
There are so many different ways to recognize, appreciate, and celebrate your employees. Here are more resources for guidance:
• Guide to Employee Recognition Programs
• 11 Employee Recognition Ideas
• 22 Awesome Employee Recognition Gift Ideas
• 9 Tips for How to Choose Employee Recognition Software
• Heartfelt Employee Appreciation Quotes to Say "Thank You"
• Benefits of Peer to Peer Recognition
• Best Practices for Virtual Employee Recognition
• Guide to Years of Service Awards
• Tips to Celebrate Work Anniversaries
• Employee Recognition in the Modern Workplace
• Victories: Modern Recognition Software
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