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What’s behind Employee Appreciation Day — and 4 ways to celebrate this cool event

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Holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Halloween are celebrated at work almost universally here in the States, and many companies take advantage of other holidays to give employees a day off, a free meal, or other gifts.

But what about Employee Appreciation Day? According to research, 56% of companies said that they don’t celebrate it, despite the fact that it’s one of the best opportunities to convey value, support, and recognition to the people who fuel your business’ success.

Pop quiz: Who knows when Employee Appreciation Day is?

Trick question! While it’s March 1 this year, it’s actually the first Friday of every March, so the day moves around.

I want to talk about why employee appreciation matters and how leaders can celebrate Employee Appreciation Day to take advantage of the perfect opportunity to spread the love.

The impact of appreciation

When employees feel that their work is noticed, appreciated, and recognized, they react in many positive ways. Here are some of the benefits you can expect to see:

  • 31% lower voluntary turnover
  • 14% increased productivity and performance
  • 43% better employee engagement
  • 3 times greater employee loyalty to the company, and
  • 56% decrease in likelihood employees will look for a new job.

While these benefits are amazing, leaders shouldn’t only concern themselves with the measurable ROI that affects their bottom lines. Appreciation at work makes employees happier, helps them feel more motivated, keeps them satisfied, and can lower stress and anxiety.

Employees give a lot of time and effort to their work every day, and a paycheck plus an occasional service award isn’t enough to convey adequate appreciation. An annual Employee Appreciation Day celebration is a great place to start improving your recognition strategy.

Ways to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day

The most important thing about Employee Appreciation Day is showing employees how much you care. The actual activities, rewards, or gifts aren’t as important as the feelings of value you spread during that day and spread throughout the year.

However, the day itself can be extremely impactful when done right. Here are some ideas to help inspire your own Employee Appreciation Day celebrations.

1. Give extra PTO

Let’s start off simple. Everyone will appreciate getting an extra day off, and what better day to provide that than Employee Appreciation Day? This works for every business of every size, whether employees are remote or in-person.

Better yet, let every employee choose a day they want to take off in the month of March to really give them the freedom to enjoy the day when it’s best for them.

2. Provide time and/or resources for professional development

Everyone has skills they’d like to learn, work they’d like to get better at, or hobbies they want to try. To help your employees live a more fulfilling life, both professionally and personally, provide the time and resources each employee needs to work on themselves.

This could include paying for online courses, covering a subscription fee, reimbursing part or all of school tuition, setting up mentoring opportunities, and anything else employees may be interested in.

3. Take away small expenses or stresses

Recognize the many things that are on every employee’s plate by helping your people get things done, such as:

Everyone has things in life that are necessary but annoying. Take some stress off your employees’ shoulders by helping them take care of these things. And if some of these perks are really popular, you could even consider making them permanent benefits.

4. Surprise everyone with a care package

Imagine getting home from a long day of work to see a package full of goodies on your door. Talk about feeling appreciated. Here are some ideas:

The theme of this idea is that you need to find out what your people will actually appreciate. That will increase employee excitement and feelings of value exponentially (compared to a cookie-cutter box full of unwanted items).

Celebrate your employees in March

Many employees feel a little down and forgotten after the high of the holidays. Employee Appreciation Day is the perfect way to keep everyone’s spirits up, spread a culture of recognition, and get the ROI you want to see throughout the year.

At Awardco, we help businesses develop, implement, and run recognition programs, incentives, and more, all while offering millions of reward options. Our experts are happy to help you with your Employee Appreciation Day celebration plans.

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