Employee Appreciation Day: How Recognition Transforms Workers, Teams, and Companies

employee appreciation

Everyone wants to feel appreciated — including at work! Employee Appreciation Day gives U.S. employers a chance to show staff how much they care, and it’s coming up on March 1.

This annual event is a great excuse to do something special for workers, but there are lots of ways to show your gratitude every day of the year.

So what can you do? Read on to learn about the positive impact of employee appreciation programs and how you can implement them at your company.

Happy workers, happy workplaces

Many companies are thinking about how to boost employee engagement in 2019. With the benefits for both employers and employees, it’s easy to see why. Strong recognition programs set your company apart from the crowd, which is especially important in today’s tight job market; they also help improve retention and recruitment.

When you take pride in your employees, they take pride in the company — and it shows. The effect stretches far beyond office walls and can be a compelling hook for future candidates. Many job seekers will research your company on social media and third-party review sites, such as Indeed’s company reviews, to see if it’s a good fit before they apply. And appreciation programs give workers authentic material that’s perfect for positive posts and reviews.

What’s more, employees are more likely to trust (and feel trusted by) companies that recognize their value. This human-centric approach creates a company culture that puts workers first. This can pay big dividends, given the strong connection between employee trust and company performance.

That’s right — companies with high degrees of worker trust consistently outperform competitors in terms of productivity, innovation and retention. Why? Their employees experience less stress, more energy, higher productivity and engagement, and less burnout. Happier employees are not only more productive but also contribute to a positive company culture, helping attract top talent.

Demonstrate company values by celebrating employees

When you recognize the value employees bring, you demonstrate your company’s own values of gratitude and appreciation. Don’t just assume that employees know you think they’re amazing. Instead, make gratitude a habit — clearly acknowledge their contributions, not only as part of the team and the company, but as individuals, too.

Think carefully about what you can do. For instance, generational differences — just like cultural differences — can impact what employees would most appreciate. Not everybody may understand the point of a Harry Potter-themed celebratory breakfast, just as not everyone will enjoy a night at the opera. To this end, some organizations, like the event automation company Certain, crowdsource ideas for activities to honor workers so they know employees are getting something they really want.

Creative ways to show you care

So how can you make sure your employees know you care — not just on March 1, but all year long?

There is an endless number of ways to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day. Whether it’s a team celebration, or something you do company-wide, make sure you do something extra special that makes everyone feel valued.

Possible Employee Appreciation Day rewards include:

  • Food: Treat employees to a special meal or a fun afternoon snack, such as a sundae bar, cheese tasting or trip to a hot new restaurant.
  • Gifts: A small gift card to a store that employees choose will go a long way (if your company policy allows). Otherwise, (quality) company swag is always a hit.
  • Fun experiences: What about a special team outing to the theater, a cooking class or even a group trip somewhere silly like a trampoline house? There are endless options, ranging from slightly studious to seriously silly — and all are a great opportunity to unwind and have some fun together.  
  • Time off: If your budget is is limited, don’t despair! Everyone loves an unexpected afternoon off, so why not let workers leave early to show your appreciation?

Don’t just recognize workers one day a year, though! Implementing regular initiatives will help workers feel welcome all year round and create a culture of continuous feedback and appreciation when people get things right. Here are a few recurring ways to show you care:

Employee appreciation is year-round

When companies celebrate the value of their employees, everyone wins. Employees are happier, less burned out and less likely to explore other options. Workplace culture thrives. And companies report myriad benefits, including lower turnover, higher earnings and positive feedback from employees on social channels.

But why limit employee appreciation to a single day? Use this year’s Employee Appreciation Day as a chance to kick off ongoing efforts to show every worker they count.

And most importantly, have fun!

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