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Employee Appreciation Ideas - 22 Great Ways To Celebrate

Apr 30, 2024
Employee Appreciation Ideas - 22 Great Ways To Celebrate
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Every year Employee Appreciation Day is on the first Friday in March, and with it comes the opportunity for companies to show appreciation for their most valuable resource—their employees. 

According to research, organizations with effective recognition frameworks experience a 31% reduction in voluntary turnover. It also contributes to employee morale. 

So on Employee Appreciation Day, show your team members how much you appreciate them. Here are a few suggestions that will appeal to everyone in your company.



Employee Appreciation vs. Recognition

Typically, employee appreciation is about rewarding employees’ general contributions to the workplace. Employee recognition, on the other hand, usually focuses on a specific achievement of a single individual or team. Both are crucial for a positive company culture.

First, Create a Culture of Appreciation

Celebrating Employee Appreciation Day is a bit misguided if you don’t already have a culture of appreciation established. And that starts by setting an example at the top of the organization.

Regularly acknowledge individual and team achievements during meetings and by personally express gratitude for employees' efforts in day-to-day interactions. Establish an employee recognition program, such as peer recognition platforms or award nominations, and ensure that it’s actively used and promoted.

The more you foster an environment where gratitude is the norm, the more authentic Employee Appreciation Day feels.


Tips for Employee Appreciation Day

  • Start planning several weeks in advance to ensure all details are covered.

  • Tailor activities and gifts to suit the preferences and culture of your team.

  • Establish a budget to guide your decisions on activities and gifts.

  • Plan a variety of events to keep the day interesting and engaging for everyone.

  • Customize thank-you messages or gifts to add a personal touch that employees will value.

  • Encourage all staff to participate in planned activities to boost engagement and fun.

  • Publicly acknowledge the hard work and achievements of individuals and teams.

  • Offer gifts that employees will genuinely appreciate and find useful.

  • Gather feedback after the event.

  • Don’t forget remote or contract employees!

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1. Special Event or Award Ceremony

Since Employee Appreciation Day is a special day, it’s the perfect time to host a special event or award ceremony to publicly recognize and celebrate employee achievements. Some ideas of what to include in the presentation include:

  • Individual awards

  • Team accomplishments

  • Milestone employees

  • New employees

  • Launch a new benefit

  • Introduce a recognition program

2. Bonuses

Money isn’t the most original incentive, but there are few employees who’ll find disappointment in a cash bonus. Show that you recognize employees’ value and the work it takes for them to help your company reach its goals with the gift of cash.

You can also complement the financial rewards with some additional perks for your most valuable employees, such as additional vacation days or vouchers for various online retailers.

3. Gift Cards

Sometimes, bonuses aren’t in the budget. Still, if you like the idea of employee appreciation gifts, you can give your employees gift cards. Instead of giving every employee the same generic T-shirt or water bottle, gift cards allow employees to select incentives with personal significance.

4. Gifts or Care Packages

Some of the most successful employer brands are those who take the time and effort to get to know their employees. Then, when the time comes for your HR team to start generating employee appreciation ideas, this data will be invaluable.

Personalized rewards make all the difference in outreach attempts such as care packages. A care package is a particularly useful employee appreciation idea, particularly for remote employees or teams.

While you don’t need to make care packages hyper-personalized, you should still acknowledge the individual’s unique traits, values, interests, and core drivers.

5. Pick-a-Prize

Allowing employees to pick their own gift can significantly enhance its value, as it ensures that the reward is desirable and useful. This approach not only empowers employees by giving them a choice but also demonstrates the company's commitment to catering to individual preferences.

6. Catered Breakfast or Lunch

Providing breakfast or lunch on Employee Appreciation Day is a thoughtful and inclusive way to celebrate, offering a shared meal that fosters camaraderie and a sense of community. Plus, it creates an opportunity for employees to bond and relax together, enhancing employee experience and facilitating team dynamics.

7. Happy Hour

Hosting a happy hour for employees allows them to unwind and socialize after work hours. It can be held on-site with options like craft beer tasting and cocktail mixing stations, or off-site at a local pub or restaurant, providing a fun break from the usual work routine.

8. Snacks or Dessert Bar

Setting up a snacks or dessert bar offers a delightful treat for employees, featuring a variety of options such as gourmet cookies, artisan chocolates, a build-your-own trail mix station, or a selection of local ice creams.

9. Spa Services

Provide in-office services such as chair massages, manicures, or reflexology sessions. This offers staff a chance to relax and de-stress right at the workplace and shows the company’s care for its employees' health and well-being.

10. Company-Wide Email

Send out an email highlighting individual and team accomplishments to the entire organization. This could include a summary of achievements, personal stories, and photos from the past year, making everyone feel valued and reinforcing the company's appreciation for every team member's hard work.

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11. Video Tribute

Similarly, you can create a video montage, compiling clips from managers and colleagues expressing their gratitude and appreciation for the team's efforts. This video can be shown at a company meeting or shared on internal communication networks, providing a personal and heartfelt recognition.

12. Say “Thank You”

Simply saying “Thank you,” in person to each employee can have a profound impact. Leaders and managers can make a point to visit each team or department, expressing their gratitude directly and personally, which can significantly boost morale and make employees feel genuinely appreciated.

13. Personalized Notes

Write personalized notes to each employee (bonus points for handwritten!), recognizing their specific contributions and achievements. These notes can mention particular instances where the employee excelled, showing that their efforts are noticed and valued.

14. Game Day

Organize a game day with board games, video game setups, or outdoor sports to make the day fun and engaging. It's a chance for employees to interact in a non-work context, which can improve team cohesion and offer a stress-relieving break from the usual routine.

15. Go Outside

Encourage employees to go outside together, whether for a group picnic, a team-building activity in a local park, or a volunteer day supporting a community project. Activities in a natural setting can reduce stress, increase creativity, and enhance team dynamics in an enjoyable and healthful setting.

16. Offsite Activity

Plan a fun activity away from the office, such as a day at a team-building retreat, escape room, bowling alley, cooking class, or local amusement park. This provides a change of scenery, fosters team spirit, strengthens relationships, and allows employees to create memorable experiences together.

17. Donate to Charity

Allowing employees to choose a charity for the company to donate to on their behalf can be a meaningful way to show appreciation. This approach not only honors the employees but also aligns with their personal values and interests.

18. Volunteer

Organize a volunteer day for employees to give back to the community together. Whether it’s helping at a food bank, cleaning up a local park, or building homes for a housing charity, volunteering fosters a sense of purpose and teamwork that extends beyond the office walls.

19. Social Media Shout-Outs

Giving shout-outs on the company Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn involves highlighting an individual’s or team’s achievements. This can boost their professional profile and make them feel celebrated not just within the company but by the broader public, enhancing their sense of pride and accomplishment.

20. Extra Paid Time Off

Taking a break during long hours of work will certainly help your employees to contribute in a more productive way. Offer late starts, longer lunches, or early quitting time, which is especially appreciated on a Friday.

Another option: Many companies designate an Employee Appreciation Day as a full-paid day off where team members can participate in things they've always wanted to. Besides providing a vacation from work, hobbies can assist staff in learning new abilities that will benefit your business in the long run.

21. Company Swag

Distribute high-quality company-branded items, such as branded apparel, tech gadgets, or personalized items like engraved pens or custom notebooks. Quality swag items aren’t just practical; they also serve as a daily reminder of the company’s appreciation.

22. Use Employee Engagement Software

Implement employee engagement software—like the one HR Cloud offers—to enable continuous and real-time recognition among colleagues. Features can include peer-to-peer recognition feeds, reward systems, or communication tools that facilitate celebrating small wins and major milestones alike.

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About the Author

This article is written by a marketing team member at HR Cloud. HR Cloud is a leading provider of proven HR solutions, including recruiting, onboarding, employee communications & engagement, and rewards & recognition. Our user-friendly software increases employee productivity, delivers time and cost savings, and minimizes compliance risk.



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