Unsurprisingly, 90% of employees say recognition motivates them to work harder, which boosts their job performance.
Even though showing continuous recognition is an imperative for maintaining a positive work environment, there’s a day in a year when employers should make a real effort to make their team feel valued ― Employee Appreciation Day.
If you’re looking for unique ideas on how to celebrate your employees and make them feel valued and appreciated — you’re at the right place!
In this blog post, we’ve got you covered with 17 ideas for celebrating this unofficial holiday, both for remote and on-site setting.
- Companies celebrate Employee Appreciation Day on the first Friday of March to recognize employees for their efforts and achievements.
- As an occasion dedicated to celebrating employees, this holiday is a great time to express gratitude and boost employee morale and motivation.
- To thank your employees, you can record a “Thank you” video, make recognition certificates, or give appreciation gifts.
- If you want to go further, you can launch the mentorship program, discuss career advancement opportunities, or implement an “Employee of month” program.
- In the end, don’t forget to make it fun ― organize outdoor activities, make workshops, or play team games.
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Employee Appreciation Day is an event held on the first Friday of March every year dedicated to showing appreciation for employees’ effort and contribution.
In 2024, this event falls on March 1.
Launched as an unofficial holiday in 1995, Employee Appreciation Day is an opportunity for all employers to show gratitude to their employees.
As such, this event is a reminder for all companies to:
- Realize the value their employees bring to the company,
- Boost employee morale, and
- Make employees feel validated.
Regardless of your company size and working model, there are plenty of ways to provide employee recognition and make Employee Appreciation Day special for your team.
Here are some ideas for celebrating Employee Appreciation Day you can use as inspiration:
- Send a personalized message stating what you most appreciate about an employee,
- Make a “Thank you” video,
- Leave “Thank you” sticky notes,
- Create fun workshops,
- Host a team happy hour,
- Give an appreciation gift,
- Conduct a thematic award ceremony,
- Launch a meditation program,
- Arrange a wellness day or outdoor activities,
- Surprise your team with ice cream or snacks,
- Discuss career development opportunities,
- Play team games,
- Make certificates of recognition,
- Share individual and team success stories,
- Launch a mentorship program,
- Implement an “Employee of the month” program, or
- Host a lunch-and-learn session.
So, let’s discuss each of these ideas!
Giving professional compliments is a great way to keep a positive spirit and inspire employees.
With that in mind, our contributor, Bill Catlette, Coach and Advisor to business leaders with 16 years of experience in leadership roles, suggests sharing a personalized appreciation note to employees to make them feel special and valued.
“Managers should express verbally, preferably face-to-face, or in writing, one thing they most appreciate about having the opportunity to work with their employees.
For example: ‘I so appreciate your reliability (it hasn’t gone unnoticed that you’ve had perfect attendance for 4+ years). You show up every day with a smile on your face. You personally bought lunch for the team….’
It’s a ‘one size fits one’ gift. Whatever it is, call it out. I promise you, 90% of your people will appreciate the expressed thought much more than an obligatory trinket, and it just might serve as a reminder for leaders to do this a little more often.“
You can also encourage employees to share an appreciation note to their managers and leaders.
Expressing gratitude is a powerful way to boost overall job satisfaction. Saying “Thank you” is a simple phrase that means a lot to people and moves them forward.
This gesture is an effective way to thank your teammates for their hard work and highlight their achievements.
Another great idea for expressing gratitude to your employees is creating a physical “Thank you notes wall”.
Let your staff post appreciation notes for their teammates, and spread some positive energy!
If you lead distributed teams, encourage your employees to send a “Thank you” message to their colleagues.
Creating cooperative workshops has several benefits for employers. First of all, workshops aim to improve employees’ skills and knowledge. In addition, these workshops show that companies care and want to invest in their teams.
Aside from typical cooperative workshops that focus on skill development, stress management or communication improvement, introducing staff to some fun activities and hobbies may be a great way to help them recharge their batteries.
To make such a positive experience for your employees, you can opt for:
- Painting workshops,
- Yoga classes,
- Cooking workshops,
- Photography lessons, etc.
Keep in mind that tastes are different, so make sure to propose multiple options, so everyone can choose their preferable activity.
Even though fun workshops are more suited for on-site companies, hybrid or remote teams can consider organizing virtual workshops such as virtual cooking classes, for example.
Friday afternoon is a great time for throwing a happy hour, especially if it’s Employee Appreciation Day!
Whether you choose to host a happy hour in a bar, restaurant, or at the office, it’s a great way to gather everyone together and give your employees a chance to unplug.
If your company is remote, you can take advantage of video conferencing apps such as Pumble and organize virtual wine tasting or mixology classes.
💡 PUMBLE PRO TIP
If you’re looking for virtual team-building ideas, make sure to check out our blog post:
Sending personalized gifts is a great idea, but in most cases ― especially in large companies ― it’s an almost impossible mission.
However, you can’t make a mistake by opting for company-branded clothes, gift cards, or spa coupons. Whatever it is, it’s a nice gesture that puts a smile on an employee’s face.
Arranging employee award ceremonies is undoubtedly one of the best ways to show recognition to your staff, their achievements and contributions.
Create a list of award categories such as:
- Best team player,
- Most improved employee,
- Top performer, and
- Longest work anniversary.
To make it more fun and memorable, you can choose a specific theme for your ceremony such as a movie night or carnival, which will increase employee engagement and make things more exciting.
Despite all efforts to create a stress-free and positive work environment, stress is an inevitable part of our lives.
If you’re wondering how to show your employees that you care about their mental health in the workplace and appreciate their effort, arranging a meditation session is one of the best ways to do so.
Getting outside the office and enjoying some outdoor activities is a good way to boost employees’ energy and motivation.
Try to offer various options, so everyone can choose the activity they’re most interested in. For instance, that could be hiking, rafting, or kayaking.
Another great way to make Employee Appreciation Day special is to give your team an opportunity to take a break from work and enjoy their time with spa and wellness programs.
Anytime is a good time for ice cream and snacks, especially if it’s Employee Appreciation Day!
Surprise your staff with an ice cream truck or deliver some delicious snacks at their desks.
By initiating career growth conversations, you’re showing your employees that you support their professional development and want to bring out the best in them.
Encourage your employees to speak about their aspirations and help them figure out their strengths and areas for improvement.
There’s no better way to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day than having fun at work!
Playing team games is a great way to let employees get to know each other better and show some appreciation.
There are a plenty of team building games you can opt for, such as:
- Board games,
- Quizzes, and
- Trivia games.
Personalized recognition certificates can be an inspiring reminder for all employees of their contributions and achievements.
Whether an employee receives an anniversary award or performance certificate, it’s a nice gesture that makes them feel valued.
To inspire your employees, share success stories and highlight all individual and team achievements.
You can give an engaging presentation in the office, or, if you work remotely, invite your employees to join a video call and take advantage of the screen-sharing option.
Whether they’re conducted in-person or online, mentorship programs are an effective tool for promoting career advancement. They show the company’s commitment to employees’ professional growth.
If you haven’t implemented mentorship programs yet, Employee Appreciation Day is a perfect time to do so!
What about implementing an “Employee of the month” program?
If you work in a large company, you can break it up by department or job title and recognize one employee per month.
Aside from executive level input, make sure to include feedback from other employees.
Lunch-and-learn sessions are a great way to promote knowledge sharing while in an informal social setting.
On Employee Appreciation Day, you can choose a work-related or well-being topic such as:
- The importance of self care,
- Setting boundaries,
- Stress management techniques, and
- The importance of empathy at work.
Celebrating Employee Appreciation Day is more than just having fun and unplugging from work.
We spoke to a Business Leadership Coach, Diane Rosen, who highlights that making employees feel appreciated boosts their engagement and performance.
“When employees feel acknowledged, appreciated, and respected, they are more likely to be engaged, and engaged employees perform better than unengaged employees.”
Rosen also emphasizes the importance of making appreciation day meaningful.
“However, appreciation days that are generic are not necessarily meaningful unless management makes them meaningful.
Employers can make appreciation days meaningful if they are one element of ongoing recognition and appreciation for their employees.”
Therefore, to show your employees that you truly value their contributions and achievements, make sure to show continuous recognition.
Whether your work onsite or remote, you can celebrate Employee Appreciation Day with Pumble!
As an internal communication app, Pumble offers a variety of features and options that help you make this day special for your employees such as:
- Text or video message to thank your employees for their effort and contributions,
- Screen-sharing option for sharing individual and team success stories, and
- File sharing for sending personalized certificates of recognition.
Aside from that, you can take advantage of video conferencing feature for:
- Sharing individual and team success stories,
- Conducting virtual team building activities,
- Hosting a virtual happy hour or fun workshops.