7 Affordable Ways to Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day

Key Points about showing employee appreciation:

  • National Employee Appreciation Day occurs on the first Friday in March.
  • Recognizing your employees can create a positive work environment and boost productivity year-round. 

Each year, the United States celebrates Employee Appreciation Day on the first Friday in March. Whether you’re in the office or working remotely, these low-cost ideas can help you show employee appreciation any day of the year.

1. Organize group activities

Bring your employees together for nonwork-related activities. You might organize team games, a shared lunch, or a happy hour. The activity itself doesn’t matter – the important thing is to give your employees a chance to connect beyond their work. 

If your workforce is remote, try online activities like trivia or guessing games. You could also host a virtual happy hour instead of an in-person gathering.

2. Hold friendly contests

Bring some friendly competition to your workplace by hosting company-wide contests. While bake-offs and cooking challenges tend to be popular, they often aren’t feasible in a remote setting. 

Instead, try testing your employees’ photography skills with a photo competition. Or vote for the best remote desk setup or the cutest pet. Treat the winner to a small gift or some extra paid time off.

3. Name an employee of the month 

Choosing an Employee of the Month may seem a bit outdated, but it’s still a great way to recognize your employees. 

With social media, you can give these employees an even bigger shoutout. Each month, post an Employee of the Month profile on your company’s social media channels. Include the employee’s name, their position, and a brief description of why they earned the title. 

In this format, your employee can receive recognition from people inside and outside of your organization. It also gives you the opportunity to share your company culture with a wider audience. Just remember to get each employee’s permission before posting.

4. Encourage peer recognition

It’s important for employees to receive feedback from leadership. But it’s just as important for them to get feedback from their peers. Because they spend the most time with their fellow team members, they may find peer feedback more relevant to their day-to-day activities.

Because of this, encourage employees to recognize each other’s efforts. Whether it’s a scheduled part of team meetings or a company-wide forum, give employees the time and space to celebrate each other’s work. At Sentric, we do this with an online Shoutout Board, where any employee can “shout out” another team member for work that went above and beyond.

5. Celebrate achievements big & small

Share excitement with your employees for work anniversaries, birthdays, and other special events. Depending on the occasion, you might decorate their desk, write a card, or send them a cake. 

Be sure to celebrate your employees’ small wins and daily achievements, too. In these cases, subtler forms of recognition, like a genuine thank you or a handwritten note, may be even more meaningful.

6. Send small gifts

You don’t need to spend money to show an employee that you appreciate them. However, gifts can be special tokens of appreciation. In a remote workplace, they’re also a way to connect with employees beyond a screen.

If it’s within your budget, send your employees some company swag like branded pens, t-shirts, or mugs. Other small rewards, like gift cards, baked goods, or coffee, can brighten your employees’ doorsteps.

7. Ask for employee input

With so many ways to show employee appreciation, it may be difficult to know which initiatives to adopt in your workplace. Of course, considering your budget and overall feasibility will help you narrow down your options. But your employees are the key to developing an effective employee appreciation program.

How would your employees like to be recognized? When do they feel most appreciated? Ask your employees these questions and use their feedback for direction. When you do this, you also show your employees that you hear their voices and value their input.

Showing employee appreciation year-round

Employee Appreciation Day gives you a natural opportunity to express gratitude to your employees. However, meaningful employee appreciation is a year-round effort. When you continuously recognize your employees, you also improve their morale, retention, and productivity.

For more employee engagement tips, check out our blog.


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