Employee Appreciation Day is sort of like Taco Tuesday—it’s a great idea, most people are into it, and it should happen way more often than it does. So, since the official day is around the corner, here’s some background on what it is, how it started, why it’s important, and what you can be doing to celebrate it this (or any) year.
What day is National Employee Appreciation Day?
Employee Appreciation Day takes place this year on Friday, March 4th, 2022. It’s always celebrated on the first Friday in March, though some businesses have chosen to turn it into a whole weeklong celebration (because, like tacos, more is better here).
How did Employee Appreciation Day start?
In 1994, Dr. Bob Nelson published a book called 1,001 Ways to Reward Employees. As part of his promotion and publicity for the book, he created the idea of Employee Appreciation Day, and businesses just ate it up.
His book is now an international bestseller, and Employee Appreciation Day has been widely adopted by businesses of all shapes and sizes. (Also, kudos to his publicist who created a worldwide corporate holiday to build buzz around an HR book.)
Why do we celebrate Employee Appreciation Day?
Well, as Ray Kroc aptly put it: “You’re only as good as the people you hire.” And, assuming you hire really great people, it’s important to keep them happy, engaged, and at their best. Studies show that employee recognition and appreciation are important (and growing) drivers to overall happiness and engagement. So, Employee Appreciation Day has been used as an opportunity for businesses to take a moment to thank their employees, recognize their achievements, and support their well-being.
Why is Employee Appreciation Day important?
In the same way Mother’s Day gives all the moms out there a special moment to feel seen, special, and doted on, Employee Appreciation Day provides a moment in time to turn the tables from your typical workflow and highlight the people who make everything possible. You could choose to do this any day (or multiple days or times a year), but putting something on the calendar helps to make sure you stay accountable, and don’t completely forget about it.
What do you do for Employee Appreciation Day virtually?
Short answer: SO MUCH. A more flushed out breakdown:
- Host a Virtual Employee Award Ceremony
What better way to honor your employees and celebrate their accomplishments than an award ceremony? Make the awards playful, serious, work-focused, or more based on people’s personalities, and have some fun! Call your employees “on stage” to receive their award. Play a favorite song of theirs to celebrate. Or simply show the images of the highlighted employees during a live presentation. However big or small you want to go, we’ve got you.
- Throw a Virtual Party
Get everyone together for anything but another meeting. Watch a movie together. Do a virtual happy hour. Have a little dance party. Give your team an excuse to let loose, connect, and feel good about where they work and the people they work with.
- Play a Virtual Game
Nothing beats a bit of healthy competition. And a few games actually work really well virtually (think charades, Pictionary, etc.). If you want to step up your game and make it really special, try out Weve’s game of the month. Our writers and trivia nerds draw inspiration from current events and the season and create an entirely new game every month. If your team loves it, make it a tradition, and come back regularly to give your employees something to look forward to.
- Bring in a Virtual Guest Speaker
A big part of employee engagement is inspiration. Find someone that aligns with the values of your business and bring them in to virtually speak with your team and offer a Q&A. Perhaps a famous author or poet, or a noted leader in your industry. It will create a memorable moment for your team, and provide them with something to connect with each other on moving forward.
- Host a Comedian
Laughter is truly the best medicine. And needed these days more than ever. So, celebrate Employee Appreciation Day by bringing in a comedian (or 2) for a virtual comedy show. Have any aspiring performers on your team? You could also:
- Have a Talent Show
What better way to celebrate the unique gifts of each employee than to provide a platform for them to share their talents with the team? Encourage a range of performances, from poetry to comedy, to music and dance, or just some solid storytelling. To open it up to people who may be a little stage fright or shy, welcome participants to simply share a joke or something brief.
- Treat Your Team to a Meal
Everyone loves free food. Send your teams a special lunch to show them you care on Employee Appreciation Day, or turn it into something you do more regularly and play with themes a bit (Taco Tuesdays, pizza parties, etc.).
- Zen Out a Little
Show your commitment to employee wellness by offering some self-care solutions on Employee Appreciation Day. Bring in a virtual meditation teacher, breathwork practitioner, or sleep coach. Offer a group yoga class. Or bring in a range of healers, and let your team choose the modalities that they’re most interested in or needing in that moment. To step it up a notch, you could gift everyone massages or spa days, or to keep things easy:
- Send Gift Cards
This may sound trite, but it allows your employees to treat themselves in the ways they find most meaningful, and still feel seen and appreciated.
- Go on a Virtual Adventure
Virtual escape rooms are a great way to bring your team together, solve puzzles, let loose, and have some fun. We’ve created two to give you some options to choose the experience that’s right for your team.
Murder on the Mystery Express sets you off on a journey to see newly discovered ancient ruins. But the train you’re taking is filled with questionable characters, and the scent of murder is in the air. Can your team get through puzzles, riddles, secret codes, and locked doors to determine whodunit before time runs out? It’s no day at the spa, but everyone is sure to have a ton of fun.
Space Escape sets you off on an important mission to Mars. With different challenges and unique paths, every kind of thinker—word nerds, passionate puzzlers, and math mavens—will have a chance to shine.
What can I do for Employee Appreciation Day?
Step 1: recognize it. Celebrate it. Let your team know that something will be happening (don’t necessarily say exactly what…. surprises can be fun) so they don’t schedule a bunch of meetings or have deadlines that day. Then, map out what feels reasonable and scale from there. Maybe this year you can play a game or have a group lunch, and then next year you can step it up a bit and do more. Beyond activities and treats, Employee Appreciation Day is also a wonderful opportunity to introduce new perks. Here are a few to consider:
- Offer Half-Day Fridays
Employee Appreciation Day always falls on a Friday. So, you could offer it as a half day as a way to show your gratitude, or create a larger half-day program that extends through the spring and summer (when Fridays are SO much harder to get through).
- Donate Employee's Favorite Charities
This is one of those win-win perks. It gives you an opportunity to connect with your team members and learn about the charities they care about and why. And it makes them feel seen and heard, and perhaps able to share a part of themselves with the collective team. A little goes a long way here, so whether it’s for Employee Appreciation Day, or just because you’re looking to up your employee perks or CSR, don’t skip it.
- Support Individual Passions
Staying inspired is a critical aspect to a person’s overall happiness, sense of purpose, and level of engagement in the world (and their work). And while you may hope your team is continuously inspired by the work you’re doing, they likely have a range of interests and passions that they may not have a lot of time or energy to pursue. To create space for this, some businesses are starting to offer passion days where team members can learn new things, create something, or spend time exploring and pursuing something they wouldn’t otherwise have time for. And the rewards appear to be significant. Businesses that have implemented this have reported increased efficiency, positivity, and camaraderie among their team members.
- Add New Employee Perks
There are endless employee perk options out there. If there’s one you’ve been contemplating, or better yet, one that your team has requested, use Employee Appreciation Day as an opportunity to introduce the perk and put it into policy.
What if I can’t get things together in time?
To recap, even just acknowledging Employee Appreciation Day and sending a thank you to your team is a start. And there are a lot of plug-and-play events, games, etc. available to make your work a little easier and get you up and running in no time. But if for whatever reason you can’t get things together in time, don’t let that stop you from celebrating your team and offering something new, fun, and different on another random Friday (or whenever) in the future. Your employees (and bottom line) will appreciate it.
What if I can’t get things together in time?
Weve can help you plan something fun and engaging to celebrate your employees on Employee Appreciation Day or any time of the year! Sign up for a demo to see why Weve is the best way to energize and engage your team. Learn more at weve.co.