The first Friday in March marks Employee Appreciation Day, a national holiday dedicated to celebrating your employees and the hard work they do for your company. Since the 1990s, employers have recognized Employee Appreciation Day on the first Friday in March. The holiday is just as important as ever this year, so you should start planning for it as soon as possible.

Appreciation for your employees shouldn’t have to be limited to one day. Hopefully, your team knows they’re valued year-round. However, allowing your appreciation to be the focus of an entire day can be a great morale boost for the entire workplace!

According to SHRM, a top way to encourage great work and engagement is through employee recognition. Employees are more likely to be engaged in their work and be motivated when they’re recognized.

A sense of accomplishment is the driving force behind so much great work. When employees know that their efforts are noticed and appreciated, they’ll continue to work hard. If their work goes unnoticed, it’s very easy to feel as if it doesn’t matter. People need to know that what they’re doing makes a difference, and Employee Appreciation Day is an opportunity to make that clear!

To help you get started, here are a few ideas to celebrate your employees and express your gratitude on Employee Appreciation Day:

1. Host a Party

An Employee Appreciation Day party may be the most obvious way to celebrate, but it’s fun, effective, and fairly simple to pull off. Set aside a few hours at the end of the day on Friday for your team to relax with food, drinks, and games. You could host an in-office happy hour or share the experience over video chat. Eating and drinking with others is an excellent way to bond.

During the party, you could have an awards ceremony to recognize your employees. Think of something specific you appreciate about each of your team members, and turn it into an award. By personalizing these messages of gratitude, you let all of your employees know that you appreciate them for their unique contributions to the team.

2. Create a Gratitude Wall

A gratitude wall is a space to write notes of appreciation for your team. It doesn’t have to be a professional art project, but you can let your creative side shine through and use some craft supplies to make an eye-catching display. Add hand-written, personalized notes on the wall to let each of your employees know why you appreciate them.

You could encourage your team to join in, too. They could write notes of appreciation to their colleagues either anonymously or signed. You could also write prompts on the board to give your employees specific questions to answer that focus on gratitude. For example, you could ask, “What are you thankful for at our workplace?”

3. Encourage Self-care

Showing your appreciation should involve more than paying lip service. Acknowledging and thanking your team for their work is important, but you can also show gratitude by providing actionable opportunities for them to improve their health and well-being.

Self-care has been n important topic in recent years, and it’s a key part of a healthy lifestyle. Employee Appreciation Day can be a great chance to promote self-care among your workplace. You could organize a yoga, meditation, art, or cooking class at the office to give your team a break from work. If possible, you could offer a work-from-home day or even give your team the day off.

4. Provide Personal Project or Training Time

There probably aren’t enough hours in the day for your employees to accomplish everything they want. On Employee Appreciation Day, make time for personal projects. Let your team put their regular projects on hold and spend time on something they’re passionate about. Not only is this enjoyable for your employees, but taking a break from the usual work will help them feel refreshed and motivated when they return to it.

Another option is to offer employee-selected training resources. Your team could choose a class, conference, or other training or development opportunity to engage in for Employee Appreciation Day. Professional development is always helpful, and letting your team choose what to work on can be highly motivating.

5. Offer Gifts or Care Packages

A thoughtful, quality gift is a great way to help your team feel appreciated. Take your time when brainstorming ideas. Gift-giving isn’t just about the item itself. It’s also a message to your employees that you know them and know what they value.

Care packages with snacks, stationary, and activities will be well-received at almost any workplace. Alternatively, if you have a small and close-knit team, you could give unique and personalized gifts to each coworker. Gift certificates for experiences are great for Employee Appreciation Day as well. For example, you could offer movie tickets, restaurant gift cards, or museum passes.

6. Improve the Workplace

One of the best ways to show your appreciation for your team is to improve their working conditions. Do whatever you can within your budget to make the office a more comfortable and enjoyable environment. For example, you could buy a better coffee maker and a selection of high-quality coffee, or you could replace harsh lighting with gentler bulbs.

It may be wise to ask your team for suggestions before investing in a workplace upgrade. Your employees will probably have plenty of ideas that may not have crossed your mind, and you could put it to a vote to decide on the most worthwhile improvements.

Final Thoughts

There are plenty of ideas for Employee Appreciation Day. What’s most important is that your gesture is personal. All workplaces are different and have different values, so you should consider what gifts, company swag, or experiences will be the most beneficial and enjoyable for your team.

Your employees work hard all year, and Employee Appreciation Day is the perfect opportunity to recognize their efforts and motivate them for another year of success.

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