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Employee Appreciation Day
Studies show us that appreciating our employees has positive results. Read on to learn one way to acknowledge the efforts and accomplishments of employees, improve morale, increase motivation, and strengthen the overall success of your organization.

What Is Employee Appreciation Day?

Employee Appreciation Day is an annual observance that is celebrated on the first Friday in March each year. It is a day to recognize and show gratitude to employees for their hard work and contributions to the organization. The day was first observed in 1995, and it has since become a widely recognized event in the business world. While the day is observed once a year, it is important for employers to show appreciation and recognition to their employees on a regular basis in order to maintain a happy and engaged workforce.

History of Employee Appreciation Day

Employee Appreciation Day was created in 1995 by Bob Nelson, a founding Recognition Professionals International board member and employee motivation expert. The first official Employee Appreciation Day was observed on March 2, 1995. The idea behind Employee Appreciation Day was to create a dedicated day for employers to show their employees that they are valued and appreciated. The day was also intended to raise awareness about the importance of employee recognition and to encourage businesses to incorporate recognition into their regular practices. Today, Employee Appreciation Day is gaining strength. Companies use the day to show appreciation to their employees through time off, a small token of gratitude, or a special event.

12 Ideas for Celebrating Employee Appreciation Day

There are many ways to show your employees that you value their hard work and contributions. By taking the time to acknowledge and recognize their efforts, you can help build a positive and supportive workplace culture that will benefit both your employees and your business as a whole. Celebrating your employees doesn't have to be expensive or time-consuming. Small gestures of appreciation can go a long way in creating a positive workplace culture and fostering employee loyalty. Here are some ideas.
  • Host a special event. Plan a fun event or activity, such as a company-wide breakfast, lunch, or happy hour, to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day. For remote companies, host a virtual comedy show or music venue for employees and their loved ones! This can be a great way to bring employees together and show them that they are valued.
  • Give out gifts or prizes. Consider giving small gifts or prizes to employees as a token of appreciation. This could include items such as gift cards, branded company merchandise, or other small tokens of appreciation.
  • Personalized gifts. Consider getting to know your employees and giving them something they would personally enjoy. This could be anything from a book they've been wanting to read to a personalized item like a mug or a T-shirt.
  • Provide food or snacks. Offer free food or snacks throughout the day as a way to show your employees that you appreciate their hard work. This could include coffee and pastries in the morning, a catered lunch, or snacks throughout the day. For remote employees, offer an expensed meal or snack or send a digital gift card.
  • Recognize employee achievements. Take the time to acknowledge and recognize the achievements of your employees, both individually and as a team. Give awards or certificates, highlight successes in a company newsletter or bulletin board, or thank employees personally for their contributions.
  • Allow for flexibility. Consider offering employees the option to work from home, take a half-day off, or leave work early as a way to show your appreciation for their hard work and dedication.
  • Offer professional development opportunities. Provide opportunities for employees to learn and grow by offering training or professional development programs. This shows you are invested in their success and value their contributions to the company.
  • Give positive feedback. Take the time to provide positive feedback to your employees, highlighting their strengths and accomplishments. This can be a powerful way to show your appreciation and motivate your employees to continue performing at their best.
  • Thank-you notes. A simple thank-you note can go a long way in making an employee feel appreciated. Take the time to write a handwritten note expressing your gratitude for their hard work and dedication.
  • Give bonuses or raises. Financial rewards are a great way to show employees that you value their hard work and appreciate their contributions.
  • Host a day of fun. Bring your employees together in person or virtually for a company-wide day of fun. Schedule activities unrelated to work, such as bowling or another team sport, escape rooms, theme parks, or other team-building activities to celebrate their hard work.
  • Host a ceremony. Publicly acknowledge employees (in person or virtually) who have made significant contributions to the company, such as hitting sales targets, completing a challenging project, or going above and beyond in their role.

Benefits of Showing Appreciation for Your People

Employee appreciation is an important part of creating a positive workplace culture and can lead to numerous benefits for both employees and the company. Here are several benefits of employee appreciation.
  • Increased motivation. Employees who feel appreciated are more motivated to work hard and give their best effort. This can lead to increased productivity and improved work quality.
  • Higher job satisfaction. When employees feel appreciated, they are more likely to be satisfied with their job, 44% more likely to be thriving in their life overall, and less likely to leave the company. This reduces turnover and recruitment costs.
  • Improved morale. A culture of appreciation can create a positive work environment where employees feel valued and respected. This can lead to higher morale and a stronger sense of teamwork.
  • Better relationships. Showing appreciation can improve relationships between managers and employees as well as between coworkers. This can lead to better communication and collaboration.
  • Increased loyalty. When employees feel appreciated and are encouraged to show appreciation, they are more likely to be loyal to the company and its mission. This can lead to a stronger commitment to the company's success.

How to Make Employee Appreciation a Year-Round Effort

Showing appreciation to employees year-round can help create a positive work environment and improve overall job satisfaction. Here are some ways to incorporate year-round employee appreciation.

Recognize and Reward Good Work

Make sure to recognize and reward employees for their hard work and accomplishments throughout the year. This can be done through regular performance evaluations, bonuses, promotions, or other incentives.

Provide Opportunities for Professional Development

Offer training programs, workshops, or other opportunities for employees to develop their skills and advance their careers.

Celebrate Milestones and Achievements

Celebrate birthdays, work anniversaries, and other milestones to show employees that they are valued members of the team. This can be done through small gestures like a card or a cake or larger events like a company-wide celebration.

Encourage Work-Life Balance

Provide flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting or flexible schedules, to help employees maintain a healthy work-life balance. This can help reduce stress and improve overall job satisfaction.

Listen and Respond to Employee Feedback

Encourage open communication and actively listen to employee feedback. Address any concerns or issues they have, and work to make improvements based on their feedback. By implementing these strategies, employers can create a culture of appreciation that improves employee morale and job satisfaction year-round.
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Katie Potter, MAIOP

Katie Potter, MAIOP

Katie is an executive People & Talent leader with strong demonstration of building and scaling HR teams from startups to corporate teams. She has experience in building strong, globally focused culture & inclusion across remote, hybrid and onsite teams with a strong passion for people, engagement, & talent development.
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Frequently asked questions
Other Related Terms
DISC Personality Assessments
Employee Feedback
Employee Net Promoter Score
Employee Recognition
Employee Replacement Costs
Employee Retention
Employee Satisfaction
Employee Service Awards
Great Resignation
Job Dissatisfaction
Job Security
Negligent Retention
Stay Interview
Stay Strategy
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