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March 13, 2024
March 1, 2024

7 Employee Appreciation Day Celebrations Employees Will Actually Love

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Showing employees appreciation for all they do is a central part of a successful business model and can have a huge impact on your bottom line. You read that right—recognition and appreciation are vital to retaining, engaging, and getting the best work out of your employees.

You can recognize and show gratitude to your people at any time and on any day. However, it can be easier to remember (and to help other leaders remember) when you have a specific day scheduled for it. Think of it like a wedding anniversary—you should show your partner love and appreciation throughout the year, but your anniversary is an opportunity to really go all out.

Employee Appreciation Day is to employees what an anniversary is to a romantic partner. With a day dedicated exclusively to employee appreciation, this is the perfect time to really put some effort into conveying the organization’s gratitude to its people. To help you get inspired, here are some creative employee appreciation celebration ideas to keep in mind.

When Is Employee Appreciation Day?

Employee Appreciation Day is on March 1st, 2024, but it changes every year. It’s on the first Friday of each year, and here’s a quick rundown of the next few holidays so that you can get them on your calendar now:

  • 2025: March 7th
  • 2026: March 6th
  • 2027: March 5th

Things to Remember This Employee Appreciation Day

When you’re planning your celebration, there are some general best practices to keep in mind to really make your Employee Appreciation Day pop. Some of these include:

  • Don’t assume everyone will like the same thing. It’s nearly impossible to please everyone all the time, but do your best to not make people uncomfortable with activities. For example, don’t require everyone to get in front of the company to accept an award if they hate being in front of crowds.
  • Don’t provide cookie-cutter gifts. Whether you send a care package, give out gift bags, or hand out swag, giving everyone the exact same thing is a recipe for disaster. Most people won’t feel appreciated by a mug or a t-shirt.
  • Don’t make it feel like an afterthought. Employees are really good at detecting sincerity. If your Employee Appreciation Day celebrations ideas feel disingenuous or shallow, they’ll know it. If you’re going to put in any effort, go all the way to make your people really feel valued.

Now that we have the general advice out of the way, let’s dive into the more specific Employee Appreciation Day celebration ideas.

1. Plan an In-Office Event

For employees who work in or live close to the office, an event of some kind can be a fun way to celebrate. Think of something more creative, interactive, and fun than the standard pizza party, such as:

  • A talent show
  • A game day with stations for video, board, and outside games
  • A murder mystery party
  • A volunteer day of service
  • A potluck with optional cooking/baking competitions or classes
  • A scavenger hunt with cash or points up for grabs

Show appreciation for the hard work your people put in by giving them this time to step away from work, get to know their peers, and have some fun. Many of these ideas are relatively inexpensive, so you can easily plan something that falls in your budget.

For remote employees, consider digital events and games to allow them to socialize with each other and take a break from their work.

2. Give Everyone Points on an Employee Recognition Platform

We were going to say something about giving everyone an Employee Appreciation Day gift—which is still a good idea! However, it’s really hard to choose a gift that will satisfy everyone. And the last thing you want is your gift to sit on a shelf unused or (even worse) thrown away.

Avoid the guesswork and manual fulfillment of gifts and instead give everyone some points on a recognition platform. This way, everyone can choose a gift that’s meaningful and useful to them, and no one will be disappointed. These points will reach remote, hybrid, and in-person employees, equally.

Plus, platforms like Awardco let you automate the point distribution to take that off your plate, and you can automate recognition reminder emails for leaders so that everyone remembers that it’s Employee Appreciation Day.

Indifferent employee receiving plaque award and two employees enjoying gifts they chose themselves

3. Set Up Internal Award Ceremonies

Organize fun and inclusive internal award ceremonies. The key here is to reach every employee with creative and specific awards that show that leaders notice and care about each person’s contributions. Think of awards like this:

  • The “Gucci” award for the person with the best corporate casual style
  • The “Get Stuff Done” award for whoever is extra productive
  • The “Always Punctual” award for the person who’s always on time
  • The “Gordon Ramsey” award for whoever brings in the best lunches
  • The “Happy Little Accident” award for the eternal optimist

If your company is small, do a big company celebration. If it’s large, split it up into departments or teams and let team leaders present these awards to their team members.

Everyone brings something to your organization, and these creative awards are a great way to convey your appreciation for each employee’s unique personality and value.

4. Plan a Field Trip

We vote that it’s time to bring back field trips from elementary school. And you can do it with a field trip on Employee Appreciation Day! Choose a location that will keep everyone interested and provide travel so that no one has to stress about driving, traffic, carpooling, or the like.

Some ideas for fun day activities include:

  • An escape room
  • A museum
  • An amusement park
  • A picnic and games in a park
  • An arcade
  • A fancy restaurant
  • A concert
  • A sports game

Whatever you choose, make sure that there are things for everyone to do and be interested in—for example, if you survey your employees and learn that most people don’t like sports, don’t take everyone to an NBA game.

Illustration of employees helping one another on an arrow going up

5. A Week of Professional Growth Opportunities

Extend Employee Appreciation Day into Employee Appreciation Week and provide opportunities to learn and gain new skills. Here’s a potential week’s schedule to give you ideas:

  • Monday: Set up a mentorship program where junior employees can shadow senior employees to learn more about the company and work that they’re interested in.
  • Tuesday: Give everyone the opportunity to choose a MasterClass course that they’re interested in and watch it during work.
  • Wednesday: A day of speakers and workshops for people to learn more about topics such as self-care, financial wellness, career development, public speaking, etc.
  • Thursday: Provide resources and time to help each employee work toward their own personal passion. Maybe they want to write a novel, design a video game, start a website, or illustrate children’s books. Whatever it is, find a way to help!
  • Friday. Give everyone the day off!

Employee appreciation activities like this will show people that you care about their professional and personal success. And considering 65% of employees have quit jobs due to a lack of career growth and learning opportunities, this is a great way to increase employee satisfaction and retention.

6. Host Hobby Stations

A day of learning a new hobby would be fun for everyone. For instance, set up stations around the office where employees can learn more about cooking, painting, sculpting, origami, whittling, storytelling, flower arranging, book binding, or anything else!

Create a dedicated space for each class and make sure that you’ve found a skilled professional to lead each class.

You also need to make each class remote friendly! Set up Zoom capabilities to record each class so that remote employees can participate as well.

7. Provide Services That Take Weight Off Employee Shoulders

Think about those annoying things that everyone has to deal with but no one wants to. Things like changing your car’s oil, getting a haircut, going to the dentist, or something similar. One way to show appreciation to employees is making these actions easier and more affordable for them.

Bring these services to the office and allow employees to take advantage of them throughout the week. Consider services such as:

  • Mobile oil change service
  • In-office massage or spa treatments
  • Mobile dental, ophthalmologist, or doctor visits
  • In-office mental health counselor visits
  • In-office haircuts

For remote employees, send gift cards or curated care packages, depending on what you do in the office. If you do spa treatments, send out a self-care package with wellness items. For an oil change, send out a Jiffy Lube gift card or something similar.

Take Advantage of Employee Appreciation Day This Year

Don’t let the perfect opportunity to recognize your employees pass you by this year. Show your appreciation with a celebration that reaches every employee in a personal and genuine way, whether through one of these suggested ideas or something you come up with on your own!

For downloadable assets that help you celebrate, check out our celebration kit. And for help planning and implementing an Employee Appreciation Day recognition program, schedule a demo today!