National Employee Appreciation Day, originated by Recognition Professionals International (RPI) in 1995, is celebrated on the first Friday in March. Acknowledgement of the day is growing steadily; however, if it does not yet appear in red letters on your company’s calendar, this might be a good time to add it.
A day committed to employee recognition can only help a company prosper. It has been well documented that genuine displays of appreciation toward employees make a positive impact on employee morale, job satisfaction, employee engagement, and loyalty. And a special day sprinkled with small rewards and modest events can create positive memories that become especially valuable during challenging times.
In most circumstances, a difficult economic environment is as tough on employees as it is on the company. In recent years, the labor force has been asked to be more productive even as salaries and benefits have stalled, while inflation in key sectors such as energy, food, and medical care has marched steadily forward. American workers have risen to the challenge, working harder than ever, and a day in their honor is a great idea.
But how does a grateful business owner celebrate Employee Appreciation Day without adding another strain on the company’s budget? Here are some ideas that companies can use to mark this nascent holiday:
Do not inform employees in advance about Employee Appreciation Day. This will provide a nice change of pace when they walk into the office that morning. Surprise workers with special gifts throughout the day that progress from a small trinket or card in the morning to a more significant gift, such as an e-reader device or gift card before the end of the day.
For a truly exciting Employee Appreciation Day, allow employees to work a half day at the office and then transport them to an off-site location to enjoy the remainder of the day. Select a place where co-workers can relax, such as a private room in a restaurant for lunch and socializing.
Although the day celebrates the entire workforce, it is still important to make a personal connection with each employee. For example, compose a handwritten note to each worker highlighting his or her value to the organization, or visit each employee in person to thank him or her for their hard work and dedication to the company.
Employee Appreciation Day can consist of many activities, including an ice cream social, musical concert during lunch, picnic, prize drawings, family fun day, chili cook-off, catered breakfast, or professional in-office massages.
Additional ideas suggested by RPI, a professional organization devoted to workforce recognition, include:
- Schedule lunch dates with employees. Give them an opportunity to select the luncheon site, and use the time to simply get to know them better.
- Offer a free one-year subscription to an employee’s favorite business magazine and have it sent to his or her home.
- Consider a gift certificate entitling an employee to lunch with his or her supervisor or another mentor of his or her choosing for the purpose of being coached on one or more topics.
- Offer a shopping spree to a local supply store for an employee to get items (no staplers or paper clips allowed) to personalize his or her office or cubicle.
- Give employees a series of “On your mark; get set; go!” cards that can be redeemed at their discretion. For example, early release to go to a movie, shopping, or a ball game.
- Send a handwritten note of thanks for the completion of a job well done.
- If an employee stays late or goes above and beyond to complete a project, pay for the employee and his or her significant other to enjoy a nice dinner.
- Purchase a company gift employees would most enjoy such as a cappuccino machine, dart board, volleyball court, or exercise room.
Planning Employee Appreciation Day rewards and activities based on personal knowledge of the workforce will help make the arrival of March a much anticipated time on the company calendar.
Rick Gibbs, SPHR, is a performance specialist in the New York offices of Insperity. Insperity (NYSE: NSP), a trusted advisor to America’s best businesses for more than 25 years, provides an array of human resources and business solutions designed to help improve business performance. For more information, call (800) 465-3800 or visit www.insperity.com.