Happy Employee Appreciation Day! 3 Ways to Make Your Employees Feel Appreciated

With the passing of Valentine’s Day, you may have thought this year’s holiday season had finally come to a close. Not so fast: there’s a big one left, and the fact that it’s the Fond team’s favorite holiday might clue you in to what it is. That’s right: it’s Employee Appreciation Day!

Employee Appreciation Day was created by Bob Nelson in 1995 and falls each year on the first Friday of March. The tradition has persisted since its invention 25 years ago and has snowballed in popularity as employers catch on to this perfect opportunity to remind their teams of how highly they’re valued. This year, Employee Appreciation Day will fall on March 6th.

If you’re not prepared with plans for celebration, fret not. This article shares the key tips you need to make Employee Appreciation Day feel as festive and momentous as any other holiday.

3 Ideas to Make Employee Appreciation Day Feel Like a Holiday

You know that the 4th of July is going to involve a brilliant display of fireworks, your favorite cranberry sauce will have its place on the table during Thanksgiving dinner, and you’ll enjoy a night of traditional pumpkin carving with your best friends in the days before Halloween. Part of the fun of holidays is anticipating these beloved traditions, repeated year after year. When it comes to celebrating Employee Appreciation Day, build the same kind of excitement by starting your own unique traditions. 

Employee Appreciation Day is right around the corner.
Employee Appreciation Day is right around the corner.

While more long-standing holidays are rooted in history that outlines particular customs to honor the meaning behind the occasion, Employee Appreciation Day is a relatively new invention, and employers have agency to shape their own style of celebration.

Approaching this holiday with a little bit of creativity and the same amount of care you would give any other occasion can help make it feel as meaningful as it should. Here are our top recommendations for getting Employee Appreciation Day right and creating holiday traditions your employees won’t soon forget.

1. Communicate in Advance

Be sure to communicate to your team that a holiday is around the corner. There are several benefits that come with an ahead-of-time announcement.

First, it lets the anticipation build. Knowing there’s something fun to look forward to — and something specifically aimed at honoring oneself — can inspire a big spike in employee morale. Just as everyone feeds off the buzz in the air leading up to winter holidays, letting excitement build prior to Employee Appreciation Day helps stretch the good feelings it brings for as long as possible.

Give your team some notice that Employee Appreciation Day is coming up.
Give your team some notice that Employee Appreciation Day is coming up.

Second, as fun as festivities are, if they cut into your employee’s normal working hours, they’ll want to know in advance so they can budget their time accordingly. The last thing you want is to make well-intentioned gestures of employee appreciation feel stressful or imposing. 

Finally, Employee Appreciation Day involves more than just top-level executives recognizing their direct reports. Our recommendation is to let everyone appreciate everyone, whether via a recognition platform or an in-person ceremony. Whatever route you choose to help team members celebrate one another, it’s best to give them at least a day or two to prepare so they can arrange something thoughtful.

Even though Employee Appreciation Day is now just three days away, it’s not too late to make an announcement in advance. The goal here is just to not completely spring the holiday on your employees.

2. Give Thoughtful Gifts

Everyone loves to be showered in gifts, but they mean a lot more when the giver also   genuinely appreciates the recipient through a personalized gift. This applies to the gifts you exchange with friends, with loved ones, and certainly with colleagues on Employee Appreciation Day.

A note of appreciation makes Employee Appreciation Day gifts that much more meaningful.
A note of appreciation makes Employee Appreciation Day gifts that much more meaningful.

There are a variety of ways companies approach gifts on Employee Appreciation Day. Some opt for group gifts, like catered lunch or an in-office masseuse on-call for the day. Others task managers with selecting personalized gifts for each of their direct reports. Still others go the route of a lateral gift exchange. If you’re struggling to decide what specific gift to give, this guide has 33 high-impact, low-cost ideas with options for anyone.

Whatever you end up choosing, the critical step on Employee Appreciation Day is making sure that there’s a “why” behind the gift. Whether you use a card or say something thoughtful upon the gift’s delivery, the key is to make sure you communicate exactly what it is about the employee you appreciate so much — after all, that’s what Employee Appreciation Day is all about.

3. Get Creative With Traditions

Finally, the funnest part of any holiday are the little things that make the celebration yours. It might be the birthday cake your mom makes each year, or your neighbor’s comedic New Years Eve toast. For Employee Appreciation Day, consider having  extremely customized awards ceremonies (i.e. the Whitest Sneakers Award), offbeat games, and good-humored dress up days, like superhero or favorite sports team day. 

Make Employee Appreciation Day festivities your own to personalize the holiday.
Make Employee Appreciation Day festivities your own to personalize the holiday.

When you’re crafting your own  traditions, try to come up with ideas that would only make sense at your company. At Fond, for reasons only our employees understand, we eat copious amounts of Taco Bell and have employees defend their stance on whether or not a hotdog is a sandwich. These  unique traditions bring our employees together and give them something to look forward to year after year.

If you don’t have them already, the traditions you create can be an excellent chance to tie back to company core values — not in an overly profound or serious sense, but in a way that reminds your team members they all belong and contribute to the a single team. Employee Appreciation Day should serve as a reminder that they all deserve to be appreciated for the contributions they make to that team’s greater good.

Now, Go Forth and Celebrate

With only three days to go until Employee Appreciation Day, our excitement is near its peak. Let your employees know they have something special to look forward to this Friday, and then get to work crafting plans to let employees know just how appreciated they are.

Katerina Mery is a Marketing Specialist at Fond with a background in cognitive psychology and a passion for improving the way people live and work. She especially enjoys learning about how to accomplish this through rewards and recognition. In her spare time, you can find Katerina running outside, admiring art, and exploring the latest and greatest local restaurants.