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6 Ways to Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day

| Leadership Training, News

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Each year on the first Friday in March, Employee Appreciation Day is observed as an opportunity to recognize employees – one of the greatest assets to any organization. If you don’t have anything planned for March 6, 2020, we’ve got some ideas for you.  

Employee recognition is key to engagement, morale, and productivity. That’s what makes Employee Recognition Day such an important occasion to celebrate. In this blog post, we’ll give you six Employee Appreciation Day ideas, including:



In 2020, arguably the most valuable asset to any organization is its human capital. Its people. The employees who show up every day and make it all happen. And that’s why it’s so critical that organizations go to great lengths to take care of their people (for a deeper dive into how you can do this, check out our blog post on the topic).

Here’s the kicker. There is one simple yet significant thing you can do that goes a long way in taking care of your employees: recognizing and appreciating them. 

Rather than go on at great lengths about why this is important, we can summarize it with these four stats:

  1. 51% of employees are not engaged at work, as per Gallup (a problem which costs businesses billions each year, by the way)

  2. 40% of employees say they’d work harder if they were recognized more often, yet 82% of employees don’t feel their supervisors recognize them enough for their contributions, according to OGO

  3. 90% of employees who received thanks or recognition from their boss felt more trust in that person versus only 48% who didn’t receive recognition, as reported by SHRM

  4. If organizations doubled the number of employees who receive weekly recognition, they’d experience a 24% increase in quality, a 27% reduction in absenteeism, and a 10% reduction in shrinkage, Gallup research showed

Need we say more?

That’s why, each year on the first Friday of March, Employee Appreciation Day is celebrated. It’s an opportunity for organizations to show their employees just how much they’re valued and revered. 

This year, Employee Appreciation Day falls on Friday, March 6. And if you don’t have anything planned, don’t worry. In this blog post, we’ll give you six easy Employee Appreciation Day ideas you can use to make it an unforgettable one for your team.



Idea #1: Surveying Your Staff to See What Matters to Them 

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Before we jump into the rest of our suggestions, there’s one sure-fire way to find out how best to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day. And that is to reach out to your staff to get a gauge on the types of recognition that resonate most with them, as well as things they’d like to be recognized for.

This doesn’t have to be complicated. You can use a simple service such as SurveyMonkey to circulate a questionnaire and ask for their feedback. This can include questions like:

  • Do you feel that you’re recognized enough for your accomplishments by your manager?

  • What are some work accomplishments or contributions you’d appreciate being recognized for by your manager or supervisor?

  • What would you find to be a meaningful form of recognition for your accomplishments? 

  • Are you most comfortable receiving recognition in private, in public, in small groups, or otherwise? 

  • If we held an event dedicated to recognizing the accomplishments of our staff, what would you like for it to involve?

The feedback you get from your team can help guide and inform your Employee Appreciation Day ideas.



Idea #2: Socializing and Having Fun 

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Sometimes, the best way to recognize your employees is with something that isn’t directly tied to work. Oftentimes, a fun and lighthearted distraction from work can be the best reward for having done a great job. Some great ways to do this on Employee Appreciation Day are:

Have a Company-Funded Happy Hour – Know what’s great about Employee Appreciation Day? It’s always on a Friday! And what better way to celebrate than to cut off work at 3:00 p.m. and have a company-funded happy hour? This is an awesome way to thank your employees for their hard work while letting them unwind, socialize, and get to know each other better. Grab some snacks and whatever drinks you fancy and have a great time. Make sure you take a moment to personally call out big wins from your team members individually, but also as a group. Just make sure this is something that will resonate with your group and, of course, always remember to drink responsibly!

Take Your Team Out for Lunch – There’s something great about getting out of the office for lunch, especially when it’s on your boss’s dime. So, take your team out somewhere for lunch to say thanks for all their contributions to the success of the company. Don’t skip out on saying a toast. A quick cavalry statement and some thank-you’s will go a long way with your employees. 

Host Team Building Activities – When you hear “team building activities,” you might not immediately think of a fun way to reward your team on Employee Appreciation Day. But in fact, the right team building activities can feel more like a party than a formal work event. Whether you’re doing a full day of team building or simply working an activity into your Employee Appreciation Day celebrations, these are a great way to thank your staff for their hard work. You might like:

  • Wild Goose Chase – When’s the last time you did a scavenger hunt? If it’s been a while, you definitely might want to consider doing a Wild Goose Chase. With this high-energy team building activity, your group will race around your city tackling photo and video challenges. Each challenge is worth a pre-determined number of points, so participants will need to be strategic in which ones they complete and when. Whichever team has the most points when time runs out will be named winner. 

  • Corporate Escape Rooms – One of the most popular corporate outings these days is Corporate Escape Rooms. They promote communication and collaboration and are a ton of fun all at once. But here’s the problem: if you’re thinking about taking your employees to a Corporate Escape Room as an Employee Appreciation Day celebration, it’s going to be logistically challenging when you consider transportation to and from. There’s good news, though: at Outback Team Building & Training, we offer two different Corporate Escape Rooms that we can bring right into your office. So, rather than having to find your way offsite, we’ll come transform your boardroom or meeting space into your very own escape room experience. 

  • Getting to Know You – If you’re looking for a light-hearted Employee Appreciation Idea, you’ll love Getting to Know You. This “social scavenger hunt” is all about helping your employees get to know each other better on a personal level. With this activity, employees will complete challenges where they’ll need to match people in the room to a number of criteria – from appearance to personality traits and beyond. But here’s the kicker: in order to find somebody to match with these criteria, they’ll need to spend some time learning a little bit more about each other. 

  • Charity Bike Buildathon – Sometimes, the best way to reward your team is by empowering them to do some good and give back to those in need. With a philanthropic team building activity like Charity Bike Buildathon, that’s exactly what they’ll do. Together, they’ll work to assemble and decorate bicycles. Then, they’ll be able to donate them all to a children’s charity of your choice. As a bonus, each team will have the opportunity to exercise real-world business skills by developing an advertising campaign about their bicycles and presenting it to the entire group.


Idea #3: Making Employee Appreciation Highly Visible 

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On Employee Appreciation Day, it’s a great idea to recognize individuals and teams in front of the entire organization. Make it highly visible. This could be something like an all-hands meeting where you gather every member of your team and recognize achievements, big and small. 

One big benefit to doing this is that it provides visibility between employees, teams, and departments who may not fully understand exactly what the other ones do. It allows each employee and facet of the organization to be recognized in front of their peers.

You can also provide the opportunity for peer-to-peer recognition at this meeting by allowing people to give thanks and appreciation to one another. 

For instance, at Outback Team Building & Training, our employees fill out thank you cards attributed to their peers which are read aloud at our monthly all-hands meetings. This can be something smaller, like helping them with a sales call, to something bigger, like covering for them while they were on holiday for two weeks. 

Once all of the thank-you cards are read aloud, they’re entered into a raffle and the winners receive a coffee gift card. 



Idea #4: Dishing Out Gift Bags Full of Useful Stuff 

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If you’re looking for a tangible way to show appreciation for your employees, you can consider giving out giftbags full of useful goods. 

The key here is to give things that people actually find value in. Why, you may ask? Because sub-par swag just ends up being an annoyance that either takes up space or ends up getting tossed out.

Here are four ideas for high-quality branded items your employees will love:

  • Moleskine Daily Planners – These daily planners are both stylish and useful, making them the perfect combination for a company gift.

  • Corkcicle Coffee Mugs – Almost everybody loves to enjoy coffee or tea at the office and with a Corkcicle mug, you can give everyone a new cup with an elevated design to get them through the day.

  • Snitsla Lunchboxes – Help make it easier for your employees to bring lunch from home rather than spending money eating out by gifting them an awesome lunchbox.

  • Desk Plants – Greenery in the workplace has proven positive impacts on employees’ mental wellbeing. So, you can consider giving them desk plants as a great thank you gift. Succulents make for a great looking and low-maintenance option.

For more great options, check out our blog post: 50 Ways to Improve Your Office Working Environment.



Idea #5: Not Shying Away from Handwritten Notes 

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Sometimes, it’s the smallest gestures that can have the biggest effect. Take, for instance, personal handwritten notes. 

When’s the last time you took a few minutes to sit down and write out a thoughtful note to one of your employees thanking them for all of their hard work?

It may not seem like much, but don’t underestimate its impact. When it comes to easy and cost-effective Employee Appreciation Day ideas, this one definitely takes the cake.

Take some time to sit down and write hand-written notes to leave on your employees’ desks for when they come in on Employee Appreciation Day. Believe us when we say it’ll be greatly appreciated. 



Idea #6: Giving Your Team Some Shine Online 

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You know what’s even better than recognizing employees in front of their peers? Recognizing them in front of your customers, clients, prospects, and followers.

Utilize your online presence to give your team some shine. You can do it on your:

  • Blog
  • Social media channels
  • Website

You can share things like: 

  • Company success stories that calls out teams, departments, or employees at large
  • Individual shout-outs and write-ups about people and their achievements as they happen
  • Random employee profiles that give a little more information about people and what they do

By doing this, you’ll not only be giving your employees the appreciation they deserve, but you may also enjoy a few fringe benefits.

For one, showcasing how great your employees are is an awesome way to build trust between customers and prospects and your organization. After all, having a team full of champions goes a long way in conveying the experience your customers are likely to have with your company. 

And it also can help get your customers and prospects more invested in your business by personalizing the experience. Seeing the real people who make great things happen every day creates an undeniable connection between customers and companies. 

Employee Appreciation Day is coming up on Friday, March 6, 2020. Do you have anything planned to recognize the achievements of your staff? If so, let us know what you’ll be doing in the comments section below. We always love to learn new ideas for how to show appreciation for our staff! 



Learn More Team Building Activities for Your Employee Appreciation Day Celebrations     

For more information about team building activities you can do as a reward for your team’s hard work, just reach out to our Employee Engagement Consultants. 

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