11 Ways to Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day All Year

If you’re looking for practical strategies to make workers feel valued and boost retention, National Employee Appreciation Day offers a great opportunity. Recognizing your employees and their hard work improves morale, lowers turnover, and increases productivity.

And you don’t have to wait for a designated day to give your team some well-deserved recognition. Integrate a few employee appreciation days into the calendar to build trust and chemistry among the workforce.

Not sure what to do for Employee Appreciation Day? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. Join us as we explore the ins and outs of this important day and share 11 ideas for employee appreciation that you can implement any day of the year.

When Is Employee Appreciation Day?

National Employee Appreciation Day falls on the first Friday of March. However, if you missed this important date in 2024, don’t wait until March 2025 to recognize your team. Take time throughout the year to make your staff feel valued and appreciated.

Generally, you should aim to do something for your staff at least once a quarter, but don’t be too rigid about employee appreciation. For example, if your team just wrapped up a huge project and hit a home run, do something special for them, even if you have a formal appreciation event planned next month. Recognizing exceptional performance and achievements will encourage productivity and loyalty.

Why It’s So Important to Celebrate Your Teams

It’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind of managing your business and serving customers. While these processes are foundational to your long-term success, it’s important to organize events centered around your workforce. After all, they’re the backbone of the company, and you couldn’t achieve anything without them.

There’s plenty of research to support the need for an employee appreciation day. For instance, Gallup researchers found that only 33% of U.S. workers have received praise for their work in the past week. Researchers also discovered that employees who don’t feel adequately recognized are two times more likely to talk about quitting.

The study also explored which sources of praise were the most memorable—28% of respondents cited praise from their direct manager as the most impactful, and 24% identified the CEO as the most memorable source of recognition.

If you and your supervisory staff routinely praise and recognize team members—those in the office as well as those working remotely—they’re likely to remember it. This recognition goes beyond a company-wide event that you host once or twice per year. The leadership team must display appreciation for exceptional work throughout each workweek.

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11 Creative Employee Appreciation Day Ideas

There aren’t any one-size-fits-all approaches when it comes to recognizing your staff. It’s important to choose ideas that align with your organizational structure as well as your industry. With that in mind, here are some creative employee appreciation day ideas that you can use to make your on-site, hybrid, and remote team members feel valued.

Host a Luncheon

Just about everyone appreciates a good meal and the opportunity to step back from the daily work grind. Host a company-wide luncheon and give your staff a few hours to hang out, get to know one another better, and enjoy tasty food in the process.

For your remote workers, send out a digital gift card to Uber Eats or another food delivery service so they can enjoy a lunchtime treat.

Bring in a Guest Speaker

Introduce fresh ideas to your staff and encourage them to do their best by inviting an engaging guest speaker for a company event. Make sure to choose someone who is relevant to your staff’s interests and not a divisive or polarizing figure. Consider having employees nominate and vote on speakers so you can bring in people they want to hear from.

Invest in Upskilling

According to a 2022 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey, 65% of employers view professional development benefits to be important. Many workers share these sentiments, which means it’s crucial to offer your staff upskilling and training opportunities. This is a perk you can provide to both remote and in-office workers.

Organize an After-Hours Event

Providing on-site meals is a good way to give your team a break from the daily grind, but after-hours gatherings can be even more impactful. When you move the get-together out of the workplace, employees can step out of the work mindset and build stronger connections with one another and their supervisors.

Plan a Family BBQ

If several of your employees have children, include their loved ones in some company events. One popular option is reserving a pavilion or two at your local park and hosting a company BBQ. Provide outdoor activities and maybe even food trucks, depending on the size of your workforce.

Hold a Contest

Organizing a competition can gamify work and increase productivity. However, make sure that the rules are fair and the prizes are appealing enough to motivate participants. For example, you could offer a $500 gift card to the sales agent with the highest revenue volume next quarter.

Send Out Gift Cards

If your workforce is primarily or entirely remote, sending digital gift cards represents one of the simplest and most convenient ways of making them feel appreciated. Make sure you choose something that is universal, such as a same-as-cash Visa card or an Amazon gift card.

Offer Non-traditional Perks

Offering benefits like gym membership stipends shows that you care about work-life balance and the overall wellbeing of workers. Additionally, helping your team stay healthy can reduce absenteeism and improve their overall morale.

Send Out a DIY Kit

Many companies offer do-it-yourself spa or relaxation kits. If you’ve got a remote workforce, consider connecting with two or three DIY kit providers. This way, you can give employees options regarding the type of kit they want to receive.

For example, coffee fanatics on your team might prefer a coffee bean sampler, whereas those who are big on self-care may choose the spa kit.

Create Personalized Videos for Each Team Member

Remember, praise from managers and CEOs tends to be the most memorable among the workforce. However, if you operate remotely, it can be tough to give your employees the one-on-one recognition they deserve.

A personalized video represents one of the most impactful ways to thank your employees for the hard work they put in every day.

Set aside time during the weeks leading up to your planned employee appreciation days so you can record your videos efficiently.

Distribute a Home Office Stipend

Consider offering your remote and hybrid workers a bonus to upgrade their workspace as they see fit. You could even encourage employees to submit photos or videos of their new office additions and turn the process into a team-building event where everyone shares tips for being more productive.

Share Your Gratitude in Meaningful Ways All Year Long

This list of Employee Appreciation Day ideas highlights two points. First, it’s vital to show gratitude year-round, not just on the first Friday of March. Second, making your team feel appreciated doesn’t always require a huge monetary investment—although there are times when you should back up your statements by spending time, money, and resources on your team.

Whatever you do, make sure your workforce knows you value them and want to see them thrive within the company!

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