If you manage people, you should know that Friday, March 6th is Employee Appreciation Day. This day is employer branding gold because it gives you an opportunity to showcase your company culture, show how much you appreciate your employees and brag about how great your people are. This is your time to shine and really show how fun it is to work at your company.
Sure, parties are nice. But you can do better than a giant sub or an anniversary plaque. It’s about going beyond surface-level appreciation, dropping the mask of formality and create a positive relationship.
Recently, Workhuman asked employees across industries, “What is the one thing you would change about your organization’s culture?” The top response was that people want appreciation. People just want to be appreciated and have the same level of respect from the top to the bottom.
Turns out, appreciation helps the company grow and thrive in ways you may not have realized. Companies that invest just 1% of payroll into employee recognition see significant returns in not just retention, but also productivity. Workhuman customers show an average increase in employee productivity of $1,737 per employee. For a 15,000-person organization, this equals an annual benefit of $26 million.
Here’s a few of the ideas on how to implement or celebrate Employee Appreciation Day that will really make a difference in the lives of your employees.
1. Pay Attention
What’s going on in your employees’ lives outside of work? Who just bought a house or became a first-time parent? Who just ran their first marathon or completed a degree? If you’re not sure – ask around, get to know your people and find ways you can support them in their lives outside of the office.
Work is a relationship, not a contract. If you want that relationship to thrive, you must give more than one celebratory day of appreciation. It’s about recognizing and appreciating the whole human continuously throughout the year. Virgin founderRichard Branson famously said: “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”
2. Consider Service
Research by Deloitte found that 70% of working Americans believe “volunteer activities are more likely to boost employee morale than company-sponsored happy hours.” Put together a volunteer opportunity for employees in your community. Don’t make it mandatory, but offer it as a company benefit. Even better, make it possible for them to bring their families, children, and friends as well.
3. Play Games & Socialize
Take a few hours off of work and enjoy team games. You can set up a ninja course in the parking lot, bubble balls, or sumo suits in the conference room. These can be great opportunities for teams to know each other better in a fun setting while introducing healthy competition and encouraging innovative thinking.
Create a ‘swag’ bag with fun company gifts. Include some treats, add gift cards, and share experiences at local restaurants, massage centers, or coffee shops. Include things they can share with their spouse and children. Remember to appreciate the whole family, not just the employee.
5. Provide a Lunch Experience
Have a food truck (or two) in the parking lot on Employee Appreciation Day, or provide a catered lunch for your employees with an activity afterward like an afternoon concert or ride around town on segways or scooters. You can ask your team to vote or look into local venues and events that could be a good fit.
6. Take a Field Trip
Get out of the office and take the whole team on a field trip for the day. Consider a local museum, garden, or amusement park. Use this opportunity to get to know your community and learn about your employees.
7. Help with the Everyday
Sometimes, the best reward is taking care of the everyday stuff that employees deal with after work. Remember that your employees are individuals with their own needs, families, pets, children, and hobbies. Perhaps rewarding them with a car detail service in the office parking lot, a housecleaning service, or DoorDash after a long day at work would be the best employee gift idea.
8. Exciting Experiences
Consider special events, experiences, tickets, or travel vouchers as valuable employee gifts. Not only do employees tend to value experiences over accumulating more stuff, but they’ll also relate the positive experience with YOU, the company, and their boss. Thus strengthening their bond and loyalty.
9. Help at Home
Remember that your employee is supporting a family at home. Providing help at home can be an invaluable gift for employees and allow them to be more focused at work. This could be childcare, a home housecleaning service, Christmas light installation, yardwork services, handyman or professional home organizing services.
10. Take Care of the Car
If your employees drive private vehicles to work, employee appreciation day is a great time to surprise them a vehicle care day as a gift for employees. This could include a detail service that details all of the cars during the work day, a gift card for gas, an oil change voucher, tire rotation or other car services that keep your employees ride in tip top shape.
The feeling that your work is important and that your contribution is valuable is a great motivator for anyone. Everyone wants to feel valuable and important. According to a SHRM study, 48% of employees reported that management’s recognition of their job performance was very important to their job satisfaction. This is what Employee Appreciation Day is all about. Make this the year that you truly make an effort to care for your employees, build confidence in individuals, and strengthen your company relationships.