Celebrating 2021 Employee Appreciation Day [Complete Guide]

‍Table of Contents:

What is employee appreciation day?

We all know of certain days throughout the year that are significant to different communities of people. For example, National Donut Day is celebrated by donut enthusiasts across America on the first Friday in June.

So naturally, there should be a day for celebrating employees, right? Right!

Employee Appreciation Day is an opportunity for companies to show appreciation for their employees through small gestures that go a long way towards creating happier, more engaged workplaces. It’s a chance to celebrate and say thanks to the people who make your company great.

Employee Appreciation Day is the perfect time to show your employees how much you care. It's not always easy to put in words exactly how much you value your employees' contributions, but employee recognition on this holiday can go a long way in cementing productive relationships between management and staff members. Employee recognition doesn't have to be boring, make it something the whole team looks forward to!

Benefits of employee appreciation day

Employee appreciation day benefits managers by providing an opportunity to say "thank you" at least once per year. According to recent research published in the Harvard Business Review, 82% of American employees feel their employer doesn't recognize their contributions on the job. Employee Appreciation Day gives you the chance to be one of the 18%. The fact that this employee recognition event happens just once per year allows you the space to craft a message that will be truly meaningful.

Employee Appreciation Day is also an opportunity for organizations to motivate employees to give their best on all fronts. If you make extra efforts to recognize great work, employees are more likely to strive for excellence in their projects and tasks. Even simple employee recognition can go a very long way towards motivating teams, so it's important not to underestimate the power of recognition and giving praise when it's due.

Remote teams and employee appreciation day

When you have a team of people working from different locations, it can be difficult to meet together in person. Employee recognition may look different than it used to when you had a traditional team set-up, in the workplace. However, you don't need to break the bank to make employee appreciation day work for everyone involved. You can organize a conference call or video chat, where everyone's voice is heard and every individual has an opportunity to share his or her thoughts on how they're feeling. Schedule a virtual happy hour where everyone can get together informally. Or reward your remote staff by sending them coffee coupons or gift cards, and let them know their work is recognized.

Another option for employee recognition: send written thank you cards or virtual high fives, perhaps even schedule times during the workday where remote employees can spend a few minutes discussing appreciation of each other. Be aware that virtual teams and those doing remote work are especially vulnerable to feeling undervalued, and make sure your remote staff knows you appreciate their contributions on employee appreciation day and every day!

Employee appreciation day strategies

Employee Appreciation Day can be a unique opportunity for managers and teams alike to bond. When the date rolls around, you might want to plan team activities that celebrate their work achievements or write personalized messages for each employee. However, don't forget to go beyond written praises and show your gratitude in action as well! This day is about saying "thank you" to your engaged employees in many ways, and with more than just words. Highlight your company’s core values by demonstrating engagement in concrete, tangible ways. For instance, you could try taking time out of your schedule to help someone on your team complete a job set out by them, or thank an individual in front of everyone on the floor for their hard work and achievements.

Planning your employee appreciation event and choosing recognition ideas can be a lot of fun, but don't let the recognition platform overshadow the importance of the message. If you feel like you don't have enough time to implement a fancy recognition program or plan something elaborate recognizing employees, just sending handwritten cards or emails is better than nothing at all! Even though it's only one day, these small gestures will mean a lot to your employees and can help create a more positive relationship between management and staff.

More employee appreciation ideas

No matter what your company culture looks like, there are many ways to reward employee engagement and say "thank you" for everything that your employees do at work every day. Here are some employee appreciation ideas on how you might celebrate Employee Appreciation Day at the workplace:

  • Organize a staff lunch where everyone can get together and eat food provided by the company, if this isn't possible, try to organize a potluck where individuals bring dishes for the whole team.
  • Have company-wide contests about who can make the most creative thank you card or presentation about what they appreciate about their fellow team members.
  • Create an "appreciation board". Either digital or at your physical workplace, where everyone adds pictures or quotes that capture how grateful they are for certain individuals on the team.
  • Ask each worker to choose someone else to say something kind about, and go around until each person has had a chance to speak.
  • Put together a gratitude-focused video thanking all of your employees for their hard work. This way, even if individual messages can't be delivered in person, it still provides a unique opportunity for both sides to express themselves (and it might become a great addition to your company's content library!)
  • Create a video of your employees and celebrate their accomplishments and dedication, then post on social media. Or, for another employee morale-building exercise, record staff members talking about their favorite things about working at your company.
  • Make an inspiring employee recognition poster for each team member, featuring one reason why they're great! This is also a good way to brighten up empty cubicles or office walls in the workplace.
  • Send personalized thank you cards to all of your employees after the employee appreciation program is over. If time is tight, try sending them out on schedule so that everyone can enjoy receiving them over the next few days.

Remember, although Employee Appreciation Day and Employee Appreciation Week can give your employees a big morale boost, you’ll want to work year-round to create an atmosphere of appreciation that enables everyone to do their best. There are many ways to do this. One idea: using a recognition program like Matter can make this process routine, increasing employee engagement and helping you build a culture of feedback and recognition that takes your company to new productivity levels. 

Employee appreciation metrics

Employee appreciation metrics should be a part of your overall strategy if you want to see results. For employees to feel truly valued, they need to know exactly how their work and engagement have affected the company as a whole. If you don't have any existing metrics in place, consider finding out from staff members what they think is most important and why. As a bonus, this activity should also increase employee engagement and enable you to factor employee experience into your game plan.

Once you've identified these top priorities, start tracking them regularly so that everyone knows where improvement needs to happen next! On National Employee Appreciation Day, share those metrics with the team. Making recognition part of the agenda rather than a bonus activity gives everyone responsibility for improving productivity, morale, and relationships.

Final employee appreciation day tips

To sum up, here are some final tips to consider when planning your next employee appreciation day celebration:

  • Stay organized! Make sure that your employees know exactly what is happening during the special day and when they should be involved.
  • Be creative, but simple. Keep things straight-forward so that everyone has a good time without getting overwhelmed. Remember, the goal here is simple: a happy employee!
  • Don't forget about remote team members or small departments! You might want to set up separate events for them where possible, or at least make an announcement across all channels (in person, phone, chat) thanking everyone for their hard work over the past year.

There are hundreds of creative ways you can successfully celebrate employee achievement on your employees' work anniversary or staff appreciation day, and contribute to employee happiness while increasing employee retention. What appreciation program or employee recognition program do you find most effective? What is your favorite employee appreciation day idea? These are great questions to ponder as you plan your employee appreciation strategy!

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‌Cover Photo by
Arnu
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