Celebrating National Employee Recognition Day

By Casey Pechan
Updated March 3, 2022
5 minute read

National Employee Recognition Day — March 4, 2022 — is right around the corner. Employee Recognition Day offers the perfect opportunity to celebrate employees’ positive impact on your organization. 

So how can you communicate appreciation to your workforce? Actions and experiences resonate far more than verbal recognition alone. 

On this day dedicated to employee appreciation, find ways to show employees that you see and appreciate their contributions to the business. Here are some ideas for celebrating Employee Recognition Day at your workplace.

Why Celebrate Employee Recognition Day?

Your employees power your business, and they deserve to see their contributions celebrated, especially by their supervisors and top organizational leadership. 

Employee Recognition Day should be a natural extension of your everyday employee recognition program. This particular day celebrates what employees should already know — that you appreciate their efforts and achievements in driving business results.

The Importance of Employee Recognition

Employee recognition is a crucial component of employee experience. Recognizing your employees for the work they put in results in increased employee engagement and job satisfaction.

Implementing employee recognition ideas helps you demonstrate your appreciation to your workforce. Without celebrating employees for what they do, employees won’t know how much the business values them. Once employees begin feeling taken for granted, they’re more likely to disengage and potentially start looking for a new position elsewhere.

But, on the flip side, employees are more likely to work harder and become more invested in their work when they feel appreciated for what they do. That drives a significant boost to employee morale, positively impacting employee retention.

6 Employee Recognition Day Ideas

Here are some Employee Appreciation Day ideas to help you communicate to employees the value you place on their contributions.

Establish Dedicated Time Off 

Employees work hard for you every day. Ahead of Employee Recognition Day, give your team members some time off to take care of themselves.

Consider offering employees time to take off around Employee Recognition Day. Offering additional time off signals to employees the importance you place on their health and wellbeing.

Treat Employees to a Team Happy Hour

Social events provide an excellent opportunity to bring your employees together to recognize each other and their contributions to the team. Reserve space at a restaurant to get your group together. Be sure to include several options for food and drinks to accommodate all diets.

Plan programming for recognizing each employee during your time together. Acknowledge each team and individual’s biggest wins throughout the previous year. Ensure each person is included and their most significant achievements are publicly recognized.

Provide Thank You Baskets

A curated thank you basket can demonstrate your appreciation to each employee for their commitment to the company. But don’t settle for a basic basket — gift baskets today have progressed far beyond branded clothing and water bottles. 

Send gift baskets that are meaningful and provide an experience to the recipient. The basket could include various items for relaxing (such as herbal tea, scented candles, and a book) or a curated one that provides supplies for an activity (like canvas, paints, and a palette).

Offer a Half-Day Off

On Employee Recognition Day itself, consider giving employees a half-day off. Encourage employees to use their time off to treat themselves. Consider partnering with a local child care agency to give employees with children the night off.

But don’t just send them home empty-handed. If you have an employee rewards platform or process for doling out rewards, allow employees to cash in rewards for an experience they can have on that day, like a spa day or a cooking class.

Furnish a Dessert Buffet

Hosting a social over food is a fun way to recognize employees. Desserts with coffee or tea are always popular for celebrations and provide a positive backdrop for recognizing your workforce. An informal dessert buffet earlier in the day gives employees time to enjoy some time off in the afternoon.

Provide a variety of options and take dietary needs into account. Give employees input into the type of food and beverages you provide or consider offering options for curated culinary experiences, such as a variety of international options.

Let Your Employees Choose an Activity

There’s no better way to recognize employees than to give them control over how to spend their day. Depending on the size of your workforce, you can engage employees across the company or allow individual teams to choose their activities.

Set a budget and give employees options for activities, such as socializing over a meal, bonding over bowling or another game, or participating in a hobby class together.

The key is giving employees choice and control over celebrating their accomplishments. The more of a voice you give employees, the more authentic your efforts will seem to them—and they’ll be that much more engaged in the celebration.

How Do You Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day Virtually?

Even if your workforce is located across diverse cities and states, you can still bring everyone together virtually on National Employee Appreciation Day to recognize employee achievements. 

Provide Lunch on the Company

Providing lunch is a classic employee perk that’s just as good an option for remote employees as for in-person workers. When employees are working from home, you can offer them even more choices for ordering their meal.

Give each employee a credit for a restaurant delivery service so they can order lunch from their favorite local restaurant. Encourage teams to have a virtual lunch social to share their accomplishments and learn more about each other. 

Meals often have cultural or personal significance, so allowing employees to share this experience can be incredibly meaningful.

Send Employees Fun Gift Cards

Consider sending a range of gift cards to each employee, from gift cards for coffee to retail shopping chains. This gesture ensures that the rewards you offer actually treat your employees themselves.

Let employees set preferences for what they’re most interested in and the types of gift cards they’d like to receive.

Adopt a Recognition Platform

Investing in an employee recognition platform allows managers and peers to recognize each other throughout the year. 

Ahead of Employee Recognition Day, host special programming encouraging employees to recognize one another. For example, in the month before your event, encourage employees to nominate each other for recognition and awards distributed through the platform.

At your program for the day itself, recognize these accomplishments publicly. Make sure each person feels included and recognized for something unique.

Host a Virtual Cookoff 

Encourage individual teams to engage in a virtual cookoff activity. Provide ingredients that each team member can eat and get creative in the kitchen, or provide gift cards employees can use to purchase their ingredients. Give employees half a day to cook and then share their creations in a virtual meal with their colleagues.

You can’t physically taste each employee’s culinary creations, but it’s not really winning that counts. Food and cooking are often highly personal, and this event allows employees to share that part of themselves in a positive virtual format.

Celebrate Employees All Year Long

Employee Recognition Day events have the most significant impact if you build a company culture that celebrates employees every day of the year. 

For example, develop a list of 12 employee engagement ideas you can implement throughout the year. Consider replacing any existing employee of the month programming with team-based recognition. 

The more your company can do throughout the year to recognize employee contributions, the more meaningful your Employee Recognition Day activities will be to your team. Few things are better for employee engagement than showing your employees that you genuinely appreciate them.

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