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Guide to Employee Appreciation Day 2024

Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day Friday, March 1st 2024

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The History of Employee Appreciation Day

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Although the celebration is unofficial, Employee Appreciation Day has been observed in the U.S. for many years. Officially, the holiday began to appear in workplace calendars around 1995 and has since grown into a respected tradition. Its creation is credited to Bob Nelson in collaboration with his company, Workman Publishing. As one of Recognition Professionals International’s founding board members, Nelson’s vision was to designate one entire workday across the nation for recognizing employee achievements.

Now, almost 30 years later, more and more companies are celebrating this semi-official holiday in one fashion or another. What’s more, several publications regularly write about the day – including Inc. MagazineForbes, and Wide mainstream support such as this has been instrumental in driving the employee recognition movement and providing organizations with the resources to make the celebration a memorable and lasting experience for all.

When is Employee Appreciation Day?

Employee Appreciation Day is held on the first Friday of March annually. For 2024, it falls on March 1st. To some, it may seem arbitrary to observe all that employees do in this specific timeframe, but there is sound reasoning for doing so. Although unclear whether this was by design when it was being established, the timing holds significance regardless.

What makes the timing meaningful? First, March is recorded by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics as a leading month in which employees choose to leave their positions. It comes in after December, which as the last month of the year, could be seen as a natural endpoint. With March, however, the high resignation rates are heavily tied to the timing surrounding the previous year’s bonus payment deadlines.

Second, March is often seen as a respite from all the demands of February. As the shortest month of the year, February typically has the briefest turnaround times and deadlines. Because of this, many employees work harder to meet the intensified workload demand and look forward to March as a time to recoup.

Scheduling a day to celebrate employee achievements during this anticipated time, it will reaffirm the shared connection between team members and re-energize everyone before kicking off the spring season. Because of these considerations and others like them, it makes sense to have the holiday during the first week of March.

Why is Celebrating Employee Recognition Day Important?

In recent years, there has been a heightened focus on employee satisfaction in the hybrid workplace. Notably, a significant number of American employees have sought new opportunities due to factors like insufficient recognition of their contributions. As a result, employers must to adapt and express gratitude for their employees’ accomplishments.

Employee Appreciation Day presents the perfect opportunity to do just that. From managers and company leaders to representatives in HR, higher-ups can use this chance to relay gratitude and appreciation to all of their employees. After all, appreciation and recognition are top drivers of employee satisfaction, with the power to attract talent, decrease turnover, and strengthen culture.

Another reason behind employee recognition’s importance is the current workplace climate. Employees are often in positions with no guaranteed vacation time to rest and recuperate throughout the country. Moreover, many work longer hours than others in comparable positions in developed economies. These conditions are leading factors contributing to high levels of employee dissatisfaction and work-related stress. The climate also leads to rampant disengagement, with research showing that only 34% of the US workforce is consistently engaged with their work.

By increasing employee recognition, an organization may begin to improve these levels and create a more supportive workplace environment. It could also serve to attract new talent and high performers. Organizations would be remiss to overlook Employee Appreciation Day and the golden opportunity it presents to bolster company culture, strengthen communication and reinforce the team.

The Mutual Benefits of Appreciation

Celebrating employee appreciation day at the office with colleagues

Not only is recognizing and showing appreciation for employees important for morale, but it can also benefit companies. To start, the value of kindness in the workplace is immeasurable. Generally, when people work in a happier and more cooperative workplace, they are more engaged. Much like a domino effect, better engagement can make a considerable difference in productivity and, therefore, a company’s bottom line.

For instance, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology recently featured a joint research paper on the subject of employee recognition and engagement. It revealed that employees who received regular gratitude were more likely to pick up the slack for coworkers, put in the discretionary effort, and be more welcoming to new employees.

There’s also the benefit of fostering stronger relationships. Employee Appreciation Day celebrations allow managers to make genuine connections with staff. As a top driver of employee satisfaction, it’s essential to maintain these positive manager/employee relationships. Typically, the more managers connect with their teams personally, the higher employee engagement levels. Furthermore, employees who feel a strong connection to their direct managers are more productive, proactive, and prosocial.

Adapting to Changing Settings

In 2023, 12.7% of full-time employees worked from home, while 28.2% worked a hybrid model. As such, organizations have had to re-imagine company-wide employee appreciation day celebrations to be more inclusive and respective of new cultural dynamics. While work settings may have changed, the need to prioritize employee recognition hasn’t changed. Although showing this appreciation won’t quite resemble what it used to, it’s essential to be inclusive of remote workers and send a strong message of unity.

Employee Appreciation Day Celebration Ideas

Team building event for employee appreciation day

By formally celebrating Employee Appreciation Day, organizations can send that message to each and every team member. As luck would have it, there are plenty of Employee Appreciation Day ideas for remote employees and those in person.

Here are a few creative strategies and established best practices to ensure everyone feels included and seen in 2024:

  • Send a Handwritten Note or eCard –Delivering a thank-you note from executive leadership highlighting employee achievements and milestones sends a powerful message.
  • Themed Kits & Care Packages – Themed care packages are always fun and allow a lot of room to be creative. Include small gifts, snacks, and candy, and add in company-branded swag for some extra memorability and brand connection.
  • Special Recognition – Organizing an event-specific award initiative is another engaging way for companies with enterprise recognition systems to spread appreciation.
  • Host a Virtual Happy Hour Virtual happy hours are great for bonding with coworkers separated by distance; consider making the celebration a fun and informal opportunity to toast to success.
  • Organize a Team-Building Event – Whether employees are remote, in person or hybrid, these constructive activities help to keep teams connected.
  • Take Time for a Personal Call – Reaching out to personally thank employees over the phone is easy and thoughtful and only takes a minute.
    Utilize Video Messaging – With higher engagement rates than emails, these mass communication tools are great for delivering messages with sentiment and a human touch.
    Recognition Cards – Easy to distribute, on-the-spot recognition cards, or gift cards to popular restaurants and websites are a simple way to show appreciation to everyone on the team.

Now that you’ve read how significant the holiday can be, the only question remaining is how do you plan to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day 2024? If you’re still unsure or need assistance, please reach out to our recognition experts today!