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Guide to Employee Appreciation Day 2022

Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day Friday, March 4th 2022.

Employee Appreciation Day Resources

Employee Appreciation Day Gift Ideas

Employee appreciation day is March 4th. Start planning now with these gifts of appreciation.

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10 Quick Tips For Managers

We’ve put together a short list of tips managers can use to make the most of Employee Appreciation Day.

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Celebration Planner

Use our Celebration Planner to stay on top of all your workplace celebrations and create memorable employee experiences.

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What is Employee Appreciation Day?

Employee Appreciation Day is an unofficial holiday observed on the first Friday of March, falling on March 4th this year. It was the brainchild of Bob Nelson, one of Recognition Professionals International’s founding board members. Nelson collaborated with his publishing company, Workman Publishing, to make the holiday appear prominently on workplace calendars starting in 1995.

The idea of reserving an entire day to celebrate the achievements of employees was not novel but putting a semi-official date on calendars sparked an employee recognition movement that persists today. Over the last 25 years Employee Appreciation Day has grown into a respected tradition in the US, with several publications like Inc. MagazineForbes, and regularly writing about the holiday.

Employee Appreciation Day is one of the best annual opportunities for managers, company leadership, and HR to reinforce the importance of appreciating employees. Recognition and appreciation are top drivers of employee happiness and satisfaction and can have a positive influence on everything from recruitment to turnover.

Why Celebrate?

It’s a simple moral calculus – every person who works for a living deserves to be recognized and appreciated for their contributions, and that includes management and leadership. This is especially relevant in the US, the birthplace of Employee Appreciation Day, where employees often have no guaranteed vacation time and typically work longer hours than most other developed economies.

Beyond that, only around 34% of the US workforce are consistently engaged with their work. A pervasive communications gap exists between organizations and modern workforces. Employee recognition has become an effective means of employer/employee communications, and an essential component of performance management.

Let’s face it, there is not enough appreciation in the world. The more you can spread around your organization, the better. The value of kindness in the workplace is immeasurable, and it can elevate the communities you serve while attracting high performers to your organization.

Employee Appreciation Day is a golden opportunity to set the tone of your culture and serve as a regular touchstone to reinforce that culture. It has wide mainstream support, and there are several resources available to make it a memorable and lasting experience for employees. The real question is why AREN’T you celebrating?

Why the First Week of March?

The first Friday of March may seem arbitrary, but there are pragmatic reasons for choosing this date to hold an employee appreciation holiday. Whether Nelson was thinking of these reasons when he came up with Employee Appreciation Day is debatable, but either way the date holds significance.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics regularly records December and March as the most popular months for employees to leave their jobs. December is understandable as a natural endpoint. March’s popularity is tied to bonus payment deadlines from the previous year in accordance with Section 409A in the tax code. At any rate, many employees who are thinking of leaving choose to do so in the month of March, so having the holiday within the first week makes a lot of sense.

Also figuring into the timing is February being the shortest month of the year, meaning it usually has the shortest deadlines and turnaround times. Many employees power through the first two months of the year knowing March will be a respite, and many others don’t have a respite to look forward to! In fact, Statista found that workload is the number one cause of on-the-job stress. Employee Appreciation Day is a helpful palate cleanser to reaffirm your connection with employees, rest their talents, and re-energize them as they head into Spring.

What are the Benefits of an Employee Appreciation Day Celebration?

Celebrating Employee Appreciation Day formally and companywide sends a strong message of unity to employees and gives the organization a platform for communicating appreciation and goals. If you have an existing recognition system, it can be an effective supplement to HR’s overall engagement efforts.

As a bonus, Employee Appreciation Day celebrations give managers a great chance to make genuine connections with staff. The more managers can get involved directly engaging their teams on a personal level, the better. The manager/employee relationship is a top driver of employee satisfaction, accounting for as much as 70% of variance in employee engagement levels.

Overall people are happier and more cooperative in workplaces where inclusion and diversity are priorities. A joint research paper featured in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that employees who receive regular gratitude were more likely to put in discretionary effort, welcome new employees, and pick up slack for coworkers.

Furthermore, Gallup has known for a while that their Q12 Survey item “In the last seven days, I have received recognition and praise for good work” is correlated to a 10% to 20% difference in revenue and productivity.

It shouldn’t be a secret to anyone that employees who have a safe, respectful, and appreciative work environment and feel a strong connection to their direct managers are more productive, proactive, and prosocial. Employee Appreciation Day is a day to flex all your recognition muscles and make an indelible impression.

How Has It Changed?

With 1 in 4 employees working remotely in 2021 along with ongoing social distancing restrictions, showing appreciation isn’t quite what it used to be. An event that is typically celebrated with companywide gatherings and in-person interactions needs to be re-engineered with respect to each organization’s new cultural dynamics.

2022 Employee Appreciation Day Celebration Ideas

Fortunately, there are already some creative strategies and established best practices that are growing into pandemic-proof channels to ensure everyone feels included and seen. Here are six fresh ideas for celebrating Employee Appreciation Day in 2022:

  • Virtual Happy Hour – Hosting a happy hour or similar virtual event is becoming one of the most efficient ways to celebrate and bond with coworkers separated by distance. Employee Appreciation Day is a fun and informal opportunity to toast to success.
  • Care Packages – Themed care packages are always fun and allow a lot of room to be creative. Give gifts, snacks, candy, and add in company branded swag for some extra memorability and brand connection.
  • Special Recognition – For companies with enterprise recognition systems, creating an event-specific award initiative for Employee Appreciation Day is another engaging way to spread recognition across an entire workforce.
  • Video Message – Video messages from leadership generally have a higher engagement rate among employees than emails and are a useful mass communication tool for delivering messages with more of a human touch.
  • Gift Cards – Gift cards to popular retailers and websites are a great way show appreciation to everyone on the team, and instant delivery options make them a versatile reward that’s easily distributed companywide.
  • Personal Call – Phone calls are becoming increasingly rare and taking a minute to reach out to employees for a quick thanks over the phone is easy and thoughtful.