Your employees don’t just work for you—they work with you. They help you solve problems. They introduce ideas that elevate your company. They make your goals their priority. And just like other days dedicated to those who make a difference in our lives, such as Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, Employee Appreciation Day is one that deserves celebration, too.
What is Employee Appreciation Day?
In 1995, Dr. Bob Nelson, a leading advocate for employee appreciation, created Employee Appreciation Day with his publisher after writing his book “1001 Ways to Recognize Employees.” Nelson created the day as an effort to bring attention to the hard work employees do all year long, even though he agrees recognition should appear every day.
“I’m a big advocate of using recognition on a daily basis,” Nelson said in an interview with Business Insider. “By no means is Employee Appreciation Day meant to be this one day to thank people or this one day to bring in doughnuts. But I did want to have one day where we could call attention to the topic and have conversations about its importance.”
Why Should You Celebrate?
Now, almost 30 years later, we still have March 4th marked on the calendar as Employee Appreciation Day. However, the reasons for celebrating have changed—especially with the events of the past two years.
Constant shifts in routine, and a general uncertainty about the future, have placed the standard, nine-to-five job under the microscope. Since 2001, the average work week has increased by 1.3 hours, from 42.8 to 44.1, according to Gallup. That’s not entirely based on the traffic you always seem to hit on I-95, either.
The boundaries between work and home have not only faded with remote options—they’ve disappeared. While remote work grants more flexibility, the ability to log off grows increasingly harder. The ding, ding, dings from emails and Slacks often act like siren calls to keep working after 5 p.m.
And while employees are working longer, they aren’t becoming more engaged. In fact, for the first time in over a decade, engagement has decreased. Healthcare workers have experienced some of the greatest declines in the following areas: feeling someone at work cares about them, having someone to encourage their development, having opportunities to do what they do best, having clear expectations, and having the materials and equipment they need to do their job.
While the past two years uprooted routines, they’ve also helped underlying issues surface. As coworkers and bosses, we need to become more aware and empathetic towards each other’s situations.
How to Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day
While the aforementioned doughnuts sound delicious and certainly would be appreciated, celebrating Employee Appreciation Day extends far beyond sweet treats and into the core of your company.
Consider meeting with your leadership team to discuss how to make your company more accomodating. Would working from home lower the stress of commuting? Should you mandate lunch breaks to ensure everyone is getting well-needed rest? Are there certain departments that seem overworked? These questions may change depending on where you work, but the act of questioning is the first step to improving your company for all.
Evaluate how you provide feedback and recognition. There are always employees who go above and beyond without being told. Yet, that doesn’t mean their impact should remain silent, as well. According to Ashira Prossack, Forbes Contributor and internationally recognized Communication Coach, personalized messages like handwritten notes or gifts can help your employees feel appreciated and valued.
You can also publicly recognize your superstars—depending on their comfort level. At Triad, we have a “hall of fame” Slack channel where we can give each other compliments (thanks to one of our copywriters, Billi). But even the employees who simply show up and do their job should feel appreciated, too, since you never know what could be going on at home or after hours.
Who said employee appreciation can’t be fun? Think of new and innovative ways to thank your team for all they do. Branded merchandise, especially for new hires, can unite your employees (and give them something cool to take their lunch in).
Team bonding activities can help lessen burnout and strengthen an employee’s sense of belonging. At Triad, we sent our employees on a Holiday Scavenger Hunt earlier this year. Friendships were formed, new talents appeared (who knew Michele was so good at basketball?!), and friendly rivalries were solved over happy hour.
It’s a Day, But a Notion That Lasts Far Longer
We’d love to hear how you’re celebrating Employee Appreciation Day. Share your appreciation with the hashtag #TACHallofFame to join the conversation on socials! And if you need any help with branded or personalized gifts, contact our talented promotional team Red Ball Promotions.