Should We Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day?

Should We Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day?

Feeling valued at work is important for both employees and their employers. Many initiatives have sprung up over the years to systematically prioritize employee appreciation and recognition including bonus schemes, ‘Employee of the Month’ programs, and Employee Appreciation Day.

But what is it, and why is it important, and do we really need to celebrate it?

What is Employee Appreciation Day?

Employee Appreciation Day is a yearly celebration of employees. Each year, on the first Friday of March, businesses are encouraged to thank their employees for their hard work and dedication over the last year. Started by Dr. Bob Nelson in 1995 to support publication of his book, Employee Appreciation Day has been celebrated in workplaces ever since.

Typically, Employee Appreciation Day is celebrated in North America and bosses thank their employees with small presents, words of kindness, or other work related perks like extra time off or a catered lunch for the team.

Why is employee appreciation important?

While you don’t always have to love your daily grind, it’s important for employees to feel like their efforts are appreciated at work. According to a study by Survey Money and Bonusly, 82% of employees consider recognition an important part of their happiness at work.

At Conscious Culture, we talk about bridging the gap between high quality execution and humanity for this exact reason. Work can be rewarding, if you feel rewarded at work. Looking at the data, Forbes states 54% of unappreciated employees felt the amount of stress they deal with at work is more than they can handle, compared to just 13% of employees who felt appreciated. There appears to be a definite link between employee appreciation and employee burnout.

What does good employee appreciation look like?

Good employee appreciation will look differently in each organization. Think about how your workplace functions, what the company culture is, and what would make your employees feel most valued. Ideally you want to pick a form of appreciation that everybody can take part in.

For example, offering to take the whole team out for a beer after work might seem like a good idea, but it is exclusionary for the staff members who choose not to drink alcohol, and it might be difficult for team mates who have caring responsibilities or are introverts after work to stay later and join you.

Some ideas for good employee appreciation include:

  • A monetary reward such as a one time bonus
  • An extra day or half day of Paid Time Off
  • An early finish on Employee Appreciation Day
  • An appreciation message from the CEO or another senior employee
  • A personalized message to each member of the team
  • A donation to a charity of their choosing
  • Upgrading staff facilities at work - e.g. installing a better coffee machine

The secret to good employee appreciation is that it’s genuine, helpful, and heartfelt.

How to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day

So how should you celebrate Employee Appreciation Day? Spoiler alert: you probably shouldn’t.

That isn’t to say you shouldn’t show appreciation to your employees at all, just that in a good company culture your employees should always feel appreciated.

Company culture is more than just the events you run for staff, and the way you conduct performance reviews - company culture is embedded into every aspect of your business and includes how you treat employees, and how valued and appreciated they feel at your company.

However, if you’re confident that you’re already showing enough appreciation year round, and want to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day as an extra bonus, there are plenty of ways to do that.

Using ideas from the list above can be a great place to start. You can also…

  • Encourage employees to share their appreciation of each other over Slack or Teams
  • Give out fun titles or awards throughout the day such as “most helpful team member”
  • Host fun collaborative competitions and give out small prizes
  • Ask all managers to say thank you to their teams
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