Think about where you would be without your incredible team.
Day in and day out, your employees bust their butts to make your customers happy. Braving long nights at the office, unpleasant commutes, your employees are there for you.
If you appreciate their effort and commitment to your company, what are you doing to show it? Just like you would show customer appreciation, you need to show appreciation for your employees too.
In this post, we’ll explain everything you need to know about Employee Appreciation, giving you ideas for Employee Appreciation Day and beyond to create an authentic culture of appreciation for your brand.
If you’re short on time, use the links below to find exactly what you’re looking for.
- When Is Employee Appreciation Day?
- Why Is Employee Appreciation Important?
- Employee Appreciation Day Ideas
- Employee Appreciation Gifts
When is Employee Appreciation Day?
Just like each of us has a birthday, employees have a special day each year to be celebrated too. This day is called Employee Appreciation Day and it takes place every year on the first Friday in March.
On this day, many companies choose to recognize and reward employees for their hard work by giving them gifts, going on company outings, and planning fun employee appreciation day activities that show their gratitude in a meaningful way.
While every day is a good day to show employee appreciation, sometimes it falls through the cracks. Think of Employee Appreciation Day as your opportunity to connect with your team and make up for the moments you didn’t show your appreciation enough.
Why is Employee Appreciation Important?
It’s easy to become bogged down with day-to-day business, but setting aside time to intentionally focus on your employees is always worth it. Especially, if you care about reducing employee turnover.
Turnover is a business killer. According to this report, total costs associated with employee turnover range from 90% to a whopping 200% of an employee’s annual salary. That means in most cases, you can end up paying double the cost if employees decide to leave.
You should also know that 50% of U.S. employees are either looking for a new job or actively watching the job market, according to this study by the Gallup Workforce Panel. But why are employees looking for other opportunities and why are so many deciding to leave?
It mostly boils down to a lack of recognition.
I know that may come as a surprise, but there’s data to prove it and according to global research, 79% of people who quit their jobs cite a “lack of appreciation” as their main reason for leaving. It makes sense too. No one wants their accomplishments swept under the rug or pawned off as someone else’s success.
The most effective way to reduce employee turnover is to keep your employees happy. You do this by giving them what they need to flourish in your company. That means recognizing them for their contributions and hard work. By doing so, you won’t just retain more employees, you’ll motivate them to deliver their best work.
Employee Appreciation Day Ideas and Activities
- Decorate their desks.
- Provide a lunch experience.
- Surprise them with puppies.
- Let them leave early.
- Go on a company outing.
- Hand out swag bags.
- Create a post on social media.
- Send extra employee rewards.
- Upgrade your office.
- Give employee gifts.
1. Decorate their desks
Our first employee appreciation idea is to surprise them as they enter the office. This can be done with balloons, streamers, and confetti sprinkled over their desks. Leave a celebratory note for them to read about what this special day means and tell them how much you appreciate them.
Bonus: With the note, include a wearable item like a sticker, button, or enamel pin that they can proudly wear throughout the day. It should have a fun message on it like “#1 Employee” or “A Team” – get creative with it.
2. Provide a lunch experience
Today, lunch is on you! Treat your employees to a completely catered lunch and don’t skimp out on everyone’s very part… dessert, of course.
When deciding what food to have catered, you don’t need to get overly fancy. Maybe you already know a few office food favorites? Just make sure you offer a variety of lunch options so that everyone can find something they want to eat.
3. Surprise them with puppies
When finding a fun employee activity to do on Employee Appreciation Day, consider an experience. For instance, out of all experiences you could give, few will touch the hearts of your staff like puppies. Companies like Paws in Work will literally show up to your office with adorable puppies for your employees to play with. If an afternoon at the office playing with puppies doesn’t sound good to you, check your pulse.
4. Let them leave early
After a fun-filled day, show your team how much you care by closing the office early. Every day, employees have to deal with rush hour traffic. That’s why nothing says “we appreciate you” quite like helping your employees beat their evening commute.
Bonus: Create a Spotify playlist for them to listen to on their way home. Include upbeat anthems to inspire them, classic hits songs to share the love, and songs to remind them how badass they are.
5. Go on a company outing
Ditch the office and take your employees on a fun company outing. This is a great way to bond with your employees because it lets you connect in a more casual environment.
You could go to a sporting event, rent out bays at Top Golf, visit a theme park, or go to a nearby winery, to name a few. Just be sure to communicate anything employees should bring or wear in advance, so that they’re prepared and fully able to enjoy the day.
6. Hand out swag bags
Giving out swag bags is a great way to show your employees that without them, your company wouldn’t survive. They also help your team feel a deeper connection to your brand and more unified with each other.
Swag bags can include all sorts of goodies, but here’s a few ideas to get you started:
- Branded apparel (shirts, socks, hats)
- Drinkware (water bottles, tumblers, mugs)
- Tech accessories (chargers, PopSockets)
- Gift cards
7. Create a post on social media
Your customers aren’t the only ones who follow you – your employees do too. That’s why posting about them on social media is a great way to connect with your staff on Employee Appreciation Day.
When creating social media posts:
- Talk about what your employees mean to you.
- Mention why you’re proud to call them your team.
- Share inspiring stories of their accomplishments.
- Use real photos and videos of them whenever possible.
Bonus: Share what you’re doing for your employees throughout the day, letting your customers follow along. People care a lot about how companies treat their employees and if they know you have a strong company culture, they’ll be more inclined to do business with you.
8. Send extra employee rewards
Does your business have an employee recognition program? These programs are designed to motivate your employees by recognizing and rewarding them for their hard work.
If your company has one of these programs, consider dishing out extra, unexpected employee rewards. Depending on your recognition program, your employees could use these extra points to purchase gift cards or redeem their cash/points towards other rewards.
9. Upgrade your office
Providing a comfortable space for your employees to work, hangout and recharge is essential to their mental health and overall wellbeing. It also sends a clear signal that you care about their employee experience.
You might not have the budget to do a complete renovation or enough time to create a space by March and that’s totally okay. You can still upgrade your office with healthier snacks, board games, better lighting, and new furniture like these awesome bean bags by Yogibo.
10. Give an Employee Appreciation Day Gift
Employee gifts don’t need to be overly costly to be effective, but you should be thoughtful by picking a gift that closely reflects the value they add to your company.
You have a few ways to approach giving employee gifts. You could give your employees a retail gift, like a pair of noise-cancelling headphones or a new backpack. You could also give employee gifts that double as swag.
For more ideas, we’ve curated the following lists of gift ideas for your employees.
Making Every Day Employee Appreciation Day
Showing your employees you care about them is more than just a once or twice per year event. Yes, employee appreciation days are important for recognizing team members’ outstanding efforts, commitments, and areas of growth — but why not show appreciation every day?
This doesn’t mean throwing extravagant parties in the breakroom every lunch, fun as that may be, but is an invitation to pay attention to the small gestures and indications of acknowledgment that permeate workplace communications day in and day out. Daily employee recognition, in addition to an appreciation day, sets the tone for a positive work atmosphere and influences company-wide success to create a well-knit company culture.
Daily Employee Appreciation Day Ideas
So you’re all set and looking for some actionable staff appreciation day ideas you can implement regularly. You don’t have to do all of these each day, of course, but keeping a few in mind to use throughout the workweek can go a long way for establishing a rapport with your employees. Plus, these types of exchanges make the office a fun place to be and make people excited about coming to work.
Examples of Staff Appreciation Ideas
- Leave a note on employees’ desks
- Share resources encouraging further education
- Post a social media shout-out
- Host a company “town hall” meeting
- Invite a coworker to lunch
- Host a team walk or brief outdoor outing
- Give out awards certificates
- Bring a snack or tasty treat every month
When you personalize employee recognition by learning a little more about what people like, their motivations, their hobbies, and so on, it shows that you genuinely care about their wellbeing and aren’t just using stock phrases of praise for the sake of saying something nice.
While some of these examples are akin to events just on a smaller scale, don’t overlook the impact of mindful language and saying thank you on a more regular basis. This might seem like a small gesture, and it is, but this type of low-stakes acknowledgment communicates that employees have your full support. This leads to more confident decision-making, a positive workplace experience, and the freedom to explore creative ideas staff may otherwise censor or undervalue. Is your organization looking to elevate its workforce experience?
Explore our employee engagement program, CentricityOne, to learn more about how your organization can elevate its workforce experience with powerful tools, resources, data, and solutions scaled to grow with your company.
Employee Appreciation Gift Ideas
One of the best ways to show your staff how much they mean to your company is to get them a special Employee Appreciation Day gift! A small gift will help to show them how much they mean to the company. Below are some of our favorite Employee Appreciation Day gift ideas:
- Ember mug
- Porter bowls
- Stasher bags
- Moleskine notebook
- Swell bottle
- Yeti tumbler
- Incase Laptop sleeves
- Herschel Supply backpack
- Nike duffle
- Patagonia pullover
- Apple Airpods
- Carry-on cocktail kit
- Baggu bag
- Bose speaker
- Enamel pins
- Drinkware (bottles, tumblers, mugs)
- Reusable straws
- Laptop sleeves
- Lunch bags
- Pennant flags
- Beach towels
- Gift cards
- Employee rewards
Do you need company swag or personalized gifts for an upcoming Employee Appreciation Day activity? Send us the details and we’ll send you some great ideas.